The best teachers are lifelong learners themselves.
Nicole Emmert fits that description. The Oak Lane Elementary School media coordinator and AIG teacher has an insatiable desire to learn new things and she’ll have a grand opportunity to learn this summer after she was named a Fellow in the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership at N.C. State University.
The program for North Carolina educators pairs teachers with academic scholars and professionals in private industry in a STEM-related curriculum that provides teachers with a chance to learn, create their own work product and develop leadership and advocacy skills.
As part of the program, Emmert will spend a week at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. In July she’ll travel to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts with her mentor, UNC Biology professor Amy Maddox, who is conducting research at the facility.
In August, Emmert will spend time with Emmert in her biology laboratory on the UNC campus.
Emmert’s summer study will focus on cells, part of a science curriculum that Emmert admits is not her strongest suit as an educator.
“There is a push in the schools to do STEM, or STEAM-related curriculum. This will help me to be better able to help the students when they come into the library looking for information,” Emmert said.
Emmert has a lot of questions still about the form her training will take place. She expects to learn a lot more during her week in Cullowhee, where she will meet with her mentor and discover more about how the program works.
Emmert’s inclusion in the program is also a feather in the Person County Schools’ cap. She was one of only 27 teachers admitted to the program from a pool of nearly 90 applicants statewide. As an alumni of the University of North Carolina, the Kenan name drew her attention when Principal Heather Bowling shared the opportunity with her.
“I love learning and I like to travel, so when I saw what the program was, I thought it would make a good fit for me,” Emmert said. Inclusion in the program also comes with a $5,000 stipend.
In addition to strengthening her own knowledge in the area of science, Emmert said she expects to be able to share what she has learned with her colleagues at Oak Lane and throughout Person County.
“I don’t know if that will be in the form of professional development lessons, or lesson plans or maybe even a school-wide activity that we can share with parents, but I’m excited to be able to share what I learn,” Emmert said.
The dive into science study is a departure for Emmert, whose background is in English literature and library science. But she has a daughter who graduated from college with a science degree and she has been eager to share her experiences with her as well.
As she goes through the program, Emmert will share experience even more publicly, through a blog that highlights the activities she’s participating in. The blog can be found at http://teacherfootprintsaroundtheglobe.weebly.com/. The blog also features highlights of another professional development opportunity she had in 2014 to travel to Mexico where she studied the educational system in that country.