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Awards & Recognition

Talented KSTF Teaching Fellows and Senior Fellows are demonstrating their leadership in education every day. Here are some of their recent achievements.

State Appointed WASC Self-Study Coordinator

During the 2016–2017 school year, 2012 Knowles Teaching Fellow Sophie State served as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) self-study coordinator for Westlake High School. In preparation for an October 2017 visit, she involved all stakeholders in evaluating the school’s program and its impact on student learning relative to certain criteria. Additionally, Sophie trained a team of 12 to lead monthly focus groups on various topics to gather data for the final report. Further, she is responsible for coordinating the creation of the final report, preparing all teachers for the visit, and coordinating the visit of this accrediting body.

Brown Recognized as Unsung Hero

2014 Knowles Fellow Carly Brown was recognized as an Unsung Hero by St. Michael’s College. Carly was nominated by a former student and was cited as being instrumental in their success. See the list of Unsung Heros.


Westfield High School Project ASCENT Team Receives Award

The Project ASCENT team from Westfield High School—Cortlyn Bristol, Mary Constantino, Jessica Finley and Rory McGlinnen—received a Team Excellence Award in Growth from Fairfax County Public Schools. This team is leveraging improvement science to close the achievement gap between English Language Learners and general education population biology students at their school. To tackle this issue, they developed a five-station Blended Learning Lab (BLL) model that requires students to use various learning skills required to be successful science learners. BLLs contain highly structured activities that require students to access information independently and/or collaboratively, rather than through direct instruction. One year after implementation, the test scores of affected ELL students have increased by 6%. Originally intended to impact only one classroom of 30 students, their model is now being used by six teachers at their school.

Conner Named 2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow

Kimberly Conner, Knowles Senior Fellow, was awarded a 2017 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. She is one of 35 dissertation fellows—selected from a pool of roughly 500 applicants—who will receive $27,500 for a period of up to two years to complete her research and attend professional development retreats. “The NAEd/Spencer Fellowship Programs not only promote important research, but also help to develop the careers of scholars who demonstrate great promise for making significant contributions to education,” stated NAEd President Dr. Michael Feuer. Read more about Kimberly and her research.


Myers Receives EcoLab Grant

2013 Knowles Teaching Fellow Justine Myers received a grant from the EcoLab Foundation that she used to purchase more than $3,000 worth of Vernier probes that will enable her biology and aquatic science students to engage in hands-on labs.

Sanders Awarded a Rowland Fellowship

Knowles Senior Fellow Rachel Sanders and her colleague, Laszlo Bardos, were named 2016 Rowland Fellows. The Rowland Foundation awards up to 10 Fellowships annually to secondary teachers in the state of Vermont who are visionary, willing to lead, motivated and committed to affecting change in an area of concern within their respective schools, and who take risks and work collaboratively with others. Grants of up to $100,000 are awarded to Fellows’ schools for the implementation of a vision to transform an aspect of the school that will positively impact its culture and climate.

During the 2016–2017 school year, Rachel and Laszlo used support from the Rowland Foundation to work with staff at their school, Rivendell Academy, on the implementation of Critical Explorations, a philosophy and pedagogical approach that positions students as active drivers of classroom conversation and ideas, and teachers as facilitators who strive to elicit student thinking and pull in all learners.

Pienta and Vanhala Awarded Project Kindle Fellowships













2014 KSTF Teaching Fellows Susan Pienta and Michelle Vanhala were named as 2017 Project Kindle Fellows. The two are part of a group of 16 teachers who were selected to take part in Earthwatch expeditions alongside world-class scientists, where they will collect data connected to some of the world’s most pressing research questions in climate change, ocean health, wildlife and ecosystems, and archaeology. As part of the Fellowship, Susan and Michelle will be trained to lead a group of their students on an Earthwatch expedition in 2018 or 2019.

Vanhala Accepted in Second MEA Carbon TIME Network

Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy (Carbon TIME) is a National Science Foundation-funded program that offers publicly available teaching units, teacher professional development, and teacher networks based in local education agencies. Michelle Vanhala, a 2014 KSTF Teaching Fellow, was selected as a participant in the second cohort of the Michigan Education Association‘s (MEA) Carbon TIME program. For the next two years, she will explore how to engage her students in science practices with 11 other middle and high school teachers in the state.

Hawthorne Becomes Google Certified Educator

KSTF Senior Fellow Sarah Hawthorne became a Level 1 Google Certified Educator in November 2016. Through the associated training, she became familiar with various Google tools and how to integrate them in the classroom.

O’Bryan Recognized for Encouraging Women in Computing

At the fifth annual Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards (AiC) ceremony, 2012 KSTF Teaching Fellow Kaitie O’Bryan will be recognized in the educator honorable mention category. Sponsored by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), Kaitie is being recognized for her demonstrated commitment to encouraging young women’s aspirations in computing. Specifically, she taught the first computer science course to 20 students at her school in 2015. One year later, more than 100 students have been impacted by the program. Read more.