Valle Crucis Teacher Katie Matthews Wins Coveted Burroughs Wellcome Career Award

Published Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 10:52 am

First grade teacher Katie Matthews of Valle Crucis School has been chosen as a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers, a highly competitive grant that provides $175,000 over five years to support exemplary and innovative teaching in science and math.

Matthews was one of just six teachers in North Carolina to win the award this year.

Being recognized for excellence is not a new experience for Matthews. The Watauga County native was the Mabel School Teacher of the Year in 2007-08, the Valle Crucis School and Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year for 2012-13, and has previously won Teacher of the Year honors in two schools in other school districts. Matthews is also a National Board Certified teacher, the highest professional credential available to educators.

Matthews

Matthews

“We are blessed with many amazing teachers in the Watauga County Schools and Katie Matthews is one of our very best,” commented Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. “We are very proud that she has won this award and we are excited about what she and her professional colleagues will do with it on behalf of our students. We are also deeply grateful to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for recognizing the importance of science and math instruction and for supporting the public schools with these grants. Public education always works best as a partnership among educators, families, the private sector, and supportive elected leadership at all levels. We look forward to the ways in which this partnership will strengthen science education in the Watauga County Schools.”

Matthews: “I am so excited to share Science PALS (Participating in Active Learning through Science) with the teachers and students in our district. Science PALS, a program I created with our Valle Crucis middle school science teacher Dave Shack, is a K-8 science curriculum that pairs middle school students with primary students for a weekly science lab. I also want to echo Dr. Elliott in saying how grateful I am to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for supporting public education through their grant programs.”

Matthews went on to express appreciation for her colleagues in the school system.

“I am fortunate to work in Watauga County Schools with teachers who continue to amaze me with their talent and love of learning, administrators at both the school and district level who support their teachers, and my students who inspire me every day to provide the best educational environment I can create,” Matthews said.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund President Dr. John Burris said that Matthews and the other NC teachers selected for Career Awards are individuals that “exhibit the leadership qualities that have made this program so successful…These teachers serve as models for their peers, students and the public.”

The Career Award for Matthews will be used to strengthen science education at Valle Crucis and other schools across the school district, including the development of additional units and lessons using the hands-on, inquiry based instruction of the Science PALS program. The Career Award will pay for Science PALS kits for classrooms, professional development and training in the program for teachers, and visits by Matthews to other school districts and to university education programs to promote and train other educators on using Science PALS.   She also plans to travel to schools with strong science programs in the U.S and abroad to learn successful methods to complement and enrich Science PALS.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers was created in 2008 to help exceptional teachers support their colleagues in providing high quality science and/or math instruction. Recipients of the award must be teachers with superior subject matter knowledge in science and/or mathematics, a record of outstanding teaching in these subjects, and a commitment to continued work in NC public schools.

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