Local teacher to curate national science database
by Michelle Babcock
October 23, 2013 12:35 AM | 2463 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Cherokee County elementary school science teacher was selected to serve as a curator — one of only six teachers nationwide to be chosen — for the National Science Teachers Association’s Next Generation Science Standards initiative.

Julie Michaud, a teacher at Liberty Elementary School, was chosen to serve as a curator for the national initiative, and said she is excited and honored to have the opportunity. Michaud has taught for about 20 years, mostly kindergarten, and has been at Liberty Elementary for 11 years.

“It’s a huge honor; it’s extremely exciting. To be able to take part and put forth effort in something that I’m going to be using, and my co-workers are going to be using, in the next several years is extremely exciting,” Michaud said Thursday.

Michaud will begin her curator service by attending the National Science Teachers Association’s Area Conference on Nov. 8 and 9 in Charlotte, N.C., where she will share ideas about how to better teach science concepts to students with teachers from across the country. Michaud said part of the conference will include a more detailed explanation of her curator service expectations.

“I’ll be doing activities for kindergarten through second grade with the new standards,” Michaud said. “They’re introducing engineering design and engineering concepts more in elementary schools.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said he’s proud of Michaud, and positive she will bring back valuable knowledge to share with her colleagues.

“Science and the other STEM fields are of utmost importance for our students, as these are the foundation for many of the careers of today and tomorrow. It’s outstanding that another one of our educators has received a national honor in this arena, and we know Ms. Michaud will represent her school and the district well and share what she learns with her CCSD colleagues,” Petruzielo said Thursday.

The Next Generation Science Standards offer teachers a framework for building science literacy in students, and are based on the National Research Council’s framework for kindergarten through 12th-grade science education.

The standards, which are “internationally benchmarked” to give U.S. students the ability to compete with high-performing countries like Canada and Japan, were completed in April and have been voluntarily adopted in eight states since their completion.

Michaud will work with the other curators to further enhance the resources available for the new science standards by participating in forums with other science teachers, identifying resources that relate to the topics’ goals, reviewing other curators work and participating in discussions with the National Science Teachers Association.

“What our job as curators is going to be, is to basically get a database of activities that teachers (can use with the standards)… it’s basically suggested resources,” Michaud said.

Dr. Nicole Holmes, Liberty Elementary School principal, said she encouraged Michaud to pursue every avenue possible to make sure that Liberty’s program was “top notch,” and she was thrilled when Michaud was selected to work with the initiative.

“When announced, I was elated to learn that a teacher who is so dedicated to providing students with opportunities to explore other careers through the many different lessons was selected,” Holmes said Thursday. “She has made tremendous effort to participate in reputable professional development that would create the very best program possible for our students.”

Michaud led an exploratory science class called QUEST at Liberty Elementary, which Michaud described as “a wonderful opportunity.”

“I did basic, elementary engineering and design, so we featured different types of engineering field and did activities for each grade level, from first through fifth grade,” Michaud said. “One of the main goals is to expose the kids to (the idea) that there’s more than one thing that they can be in this world … I had so many kids saying, ‘wow I didn’t know that about engineering.’”

Michaud said she thinks her experience at the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in July was part of the reason she was selected for the initiative, and where she heard about the opportunity.

“Over 1,000 people a year apply, and out of those 1,000 people, eight were selected from Georgia,” Michaud said. “It’s a week-long, intensive science training, and its hands-on things that we can take back to our classrooms.”

Homes said Michaud was chosen because of her dedication and classroom reputation, and hopes the teacher can bring back valuable insight that will help improve the school. Homes said she was “extremely proud” of what Michaud had accomplished.

“Mrs. Michaud was selected based on her love for science and technology, as demonstrated in her classroom,” Homes said. “It my desire that Mrs. Michaud learns as much as possible while collaborating with others who were selected to participate.”

Michaud said any teacher at Liberty Elementary would have done great with this opportunity, and that it’s a great reflection on the school and the district as a whole, proving that “Cherokee County is producing great teachers.”

“The teachers at Liberty are very excited about the different STEM lessons that we did last year,” Michaud said. “It’s a great spotlight on Liberty, because this school has fabulous teachers — it’s not just me by myself. This school is wonderful and we have excellent teachers.”

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