Second Grade teacher Lisa Wood was recognized recently by WNY STEM HUB receiving an Honorable Mention for the Dr. Rod Doran STEM Educator Award. She was cited for “her spirit of optimism and positive energy relating to STEM education.”
Ms. Wood said, “I feel honored to be recognized for doing what I love to do which is encouraging exploration and curiosity among my students and colleagues. Park’s 34-acre campus with a pond, marsh, and stream allows us to easily study the environment and help our students become scientists from a young age.”
In his nomination Bill Rider, Park’s Director of Technology/Chief Information Officer, wrote,
“It is my pleasure to write this letter of recommendation on behalf of Lisa Wood for recognition as an exemplary STEM educator because her enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge has led to technological growth in our entire lower school community. Lisa is an enthusiastic and positive role model for life-long learning, and for developing progressive, hands-on lessons that integrate technology across her curriculum.”
Lisa, who has worked at Park since 2002, has been an early adopter of iPads in the classroom, integrating this technology in her center activities to differentiate instruction and to offer enrichment to her existing lessons. Use of iPads in the Lower School classrooms has grown so we now have a dedicated iPad cart for Grades K-4 and wireless access points in each of the classrooms.
A few years ago, Lisa began integrating robotics and programming lessons in her curriculum. The students in Grade 2 are excited about these new lessons and this excitement has spread to other classrooms as teachers have seen how these lessons overlap with their existing lesson plans in math, science, and technology. The Park School Parents Association has taken notice and funded the purchase of Dash and Dot robots for use in Lower School classrooms.
When citing Lisa's "spirit of optimism and positive energy relating to STEM", a nominee wrote:
Lisa has a passion for science education and the natural environment, and her classroom is filled with hands-on resources to help students learn. Students learn about the responsibility of caring for the environment by taking care of animals in the classroom (lizards, hamsters, turtles, fish, and a bunny) and by observing the natural world outside of the classroom. Lisa finds many impromptu opportunities to share her love of the outdoors with students, integrating spontaneous events into her lessons with enthusiasm. For example, during a strong rainstorm, an old tree fell outside of the school building. Lisa immediately gathered the students to go examine the fallen tree, noting that a fungus that had grown throughout the trunk had been the cause of the tree’s demise. Her lessons pivoted in the next few days to further learn about this phenomenon and provide students with an opportunity to study natural occurrences in their immediate surroundings.
Lisa's engagement with colleagues beyond her immediate school/community is also noteworthy. She is an active member in several outside organizations, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Audubon Society, and a wildlife rehabilitation specialist for the Erie County SPCA. When attending conferences for wildlife rehabilitation, she has discovered speakers and resources that she brings back to her classroom to share with students. She is currently collaborating with a data scientist from Michigan State University to develop data analysis projects based on data she has collected in class, with the eventual goal of contributing new lessons to the Data Nuggets (datanuggets.org) curriculum database.
Others wrote about her work in "robotics and programming integrated into her lessons" and in the Nest Watch program that she initiated with colleagues to share citizen science data with Cornell's Lab of Ornithology.
Michelle Kavanaugh, WNY STEM executive director said, “from what WNY STEM Hub judges read, it appears that Lisa Wood is a dedicated teacher who embraces STEM learning and reflects many of the qualities and impact of Dr. Rod Doran, a Science Education professor emeritus and founding board member of WNY STEM Hub.”