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Bedford County Public Schools, and its students and employees, have been recognized on a number of fronts this past week as region honors have been handed out.
Those have included several awards handed out to Liberty High School educators as well as an award to the school system for its internship program.
The awards have included:
• Thomas Fox: STEM Educator of the Year for the region;
• Jeanne Willis: Outstanding Economic Educator for the region;
• Stock Market Game honorees: Goodview Elementary and Liberty High School; and
• BCPS: Region 5 winner of the 2013 Creating Excellence Secondary Business and Industry Partnership Award.
Thomas Fox: STEM
Educator of the Year
At the Region 2000 TechEDGE 2013 conference held last week Thomas Fox of Liberty High School was recognized as the STEM Educator of the Year, an award sponsored by LUMOS Networks.
Fox, technology education instructor at LHS, is a veteran educator of 26 years; he continues to seek new strategies to teach students technology and science concepts through engaging hands-on activities.
The goal, he noted, is to put the “fun” back into learning.
Fox was flattered to get the honor and he credited the students for their work effort. “The fact that the guys and girls are willing to work as diligently as they do, it’s great,” Fox said.
Fox has an exceptional interest in participating in profesdevelopment activities to enhance his knowledge and skill set as a teacher and to provide engaging hands-on technology and science-related instructional activities for his students that focus on problem solving and leadership.
He pointed out two classes that have experienced “science in motion” this past year. The freshman level Engineering Explorations class started the year with an aerodynamic project: a working boomerang that actually comes back. That same class also studied the ways of moving a projectile—a practice golf ball—through a distance. Students had to pretend they lived in Ancient Greece and their men had to invade the enemy’s castle. The castle was 15, 16-ounce drinking cups inverted and stacked like a pyramid. The object was to design and build a simple, but effective, catapult. The more cups that were knocked down, the higher the score.
In the senior level Advanced Engineering class, physics was heavily used to design and construct a balsa wood bridge that would hold 100 times its own weight. Another project in the senior engineering class involved designing a mechanical device that could serve as a robotic arm with human input. As a result of Fox’s leadership, he and his students launched a VEX Robotics team. This is the first school year Bedford County Schools participated in VEX.
Both classes also designed a water propelled rocket.
Fox participated in a week long summer workshop on the eastern shore sponsored by NASA with other high school educators from across the nation to meet with agency scientists and engineers to learn research techniques and identify connections to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
Fox also received the ultimate compliment this school year when one of his previous students who graduated from Virginia Tech in 2012 was hired to teach beside him as a first-year technology education teacher at LHS, due to his influence.
Jeanne Willis: Outstanding Economic Educator, Regional Winner
Jeanne Willis, economics and personal finance teacher at Liberty High School was named the region’s Outstanding Economic Educator by the Center for Economic Education at Lynchburg College.
Willis, who has taught for 20 years, including the past 13 in Bedford County, serves on the Economics Advisory Board for this region. She has been a state winner for her economics lesson plans in the past and worked with a team of teachers to develop the county’s curriculum for its new economics and personal finance class, which all high school students will have to take. Prior to this mandated class, Willis said much of the same information had been taught through a business introduction class, though previously it was an elective.
The goal, she said, is to teach students proper money management with their finances as well as increasing their knowledge of basic economics so that there will be a “whole generation that will make better decisions and use their money wisely.”
She said many of the students have experienced, first-hand, the effects of bad economic decisions that led to the recession which they have witnessed growing up.
“I am passionate about the subject,” Willis said. “We’re doing them a real service by preparing them in the classroom now.”
Willis said they have been able to bring in real-world business partners to help teach areas of credit, savings, banking and finance and consumer lending.
Stock Market Game honorees: Goodview Elem. and Liberty High School
In addition, the Center for Economic Education at Lynchburg College honored outstanding Stock Market Game participants, teacher award winners, and other significant contributions and achievements by teachers and students to economic education in area K-12 classrooms on May 21.
The Center for Economic Education at Lynchburg College promotes economic literacy in Central Virginia, with a special emphasis on K-12 teachers. Innovative, SOL-compliant economic education resources and training opportunities are provided for teachers to develop students into competent, productive participants in the local and global economy.
The Center for Economic Education at Lynchburg College is one of a network of centers in Virginia, under the governance of the Virginia Council on Economic Education and the Council for Economic Education.
Stock Market Game student honorees included, from Bedford County:
• Goodview Elementary School students Claire Overstreet, Madison Bryant, and Booklin Goff, Matthew Pollock, teacher Jennifer Stinnette; first place, school division (Spring 2013).
• Liberty High students Cad DeSimone, Derrick Dillon, Chad Hale and Jonathan Vance; teacher Mike Thompson; first place in region and second in state (Fall 2012).
BCPS: Region 5 winner, Creating Excellence Secondary Business and Industry Partnership Award
Bedford County Public Schools has been selected as the Region 5 winner of the 2013 Creating Excellence Secondary Business and Industry Partnership Award. The creating excellence awards are presented annually to recognize exemplary programs and partnerships that promote excellence in career and technical education.
Bedford County Career and Technical Education was recognized for its internship program, in which high school seniors work as interns throughout the school year with area businesses. The program is in its second year, after going through a pilot launch last school year.
In this program, 70 businesses provided 85 high school seniors with career internship experiences this year. The Career Internship program serves as a one credit elective course for the students and gives them workplace readiness instruction. That includes working with their school instructor and serving the internship at the business for at least three hours a week for 30 weeks. The students have the opportunity to earn the Virginia Workplace Readiness credential.
The program allows students to return to their classrooms with experiences that add insight to that classroom instruction. By working with the businesses, they interact with business professionals from a variety of fields in ways that cannot be replicated in a classroom setting. Highlights of the program have included:
• Hanger Prosthetics — an intern interested in a biomedical engineering career had the opportunity to observe staff-patient appointments as well as on-site lab work;
• Center for Advanced Engineering and Research — two interns interested in engineering careers have had the opportunity to interact with engineers and university researchers at an AREVA nuclear power plant control room simulator; and
• Bedford Memorial and Centra Health — several students interested in health care related fields have taken advantage of a variety of internships in the areas of physical therapy, nursing, radiology and retirement care.
Last year one of the Career Internship business partners provided a full four-year scholarship to one of the interns.