Teacher chosen for Southern Research fellowship

Published 10:26 am Thursday, June 14, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Jay LeCroy, Chilton County Schools STEM Academy teacher, is one of six teachers who has been chosen to participate in Southern Research’s Summer Internship Program for STEM Educators.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The program will give each teacher six weeks of experience working in a research lab setting.

“It is quite an honor to be selected,” LeCroy said. “I know the teachers that applied. A lot of really good engineering and STEM teachers are in the state of Alabama and a lot applied, so being selected is an honor out of that group.”

LeCroy will be working on an environmental science engineering project under the direction of someone with a doctorate degree in physics.

They will be developing environmental monitoring devices to be placed throughout the state to collect relevant data. The devices will be solar powered. These devices will be capable of monitoring water, air and other environmental concerns and would be accessible remotely.

Katherine Lanier, director of STEM education outreach for Southern Research, said the goal is to give the teachers more insight into the aspects of the job that they will then be able to share with their students.

The program also serves as a way to challenge these successful teachers to incorporate what they have learned into an action plan for their classroom and strengthen an area of teaching that they may have been weak in previously.

Lanier said she hopes the teachers get to enjoy the experience of developing a new experiment to solve something that has never worked until that moment.

That feeling of excitement and satisfaction is what keeps researchers in the field, Lanier said.

She said they chose the best teachers to participate.

“To me, the most important thing is to work with scientists and engineers that are currently working in these fields to get a better feel for what they are doing right now,” LeCroy said.

He said this will help him be able to tell students what to expect and what they will need to know to be prepared for college-level work in preparation for the field.

LeCroy applied to the program after receiving an email about the opportunity.

“According to them, there was about 100 teachers that applied and they took six of us,” LeCroy said. “Most of them are from Birmingham or the Shelby County area. I am the only Chilton County teacher.”

This includes Samantha Davis of Russell County High School, Raisa Eady of Pinson Valley High School,

Jacqueline Thomas-Edwards of McAdory High School, Candyce Monroe of Tarrant High School and Janet Ort of Hoover High School.

Each teacher will receive a $4,500 stipend for participating in the program.

Teachers in the program will present at the Alabama Association of Career Technical Education Summer Conference in August and the Alabama Science Teachers Association Conference in November.

Lanier said each of the teachers were excited for the opportunity.

Participating will also give LeCroy access to up-to-date research that he can use in his classroom.

“I am guaranteed to bring back over $1,000 worth of equipment and money from Southern Research to help my classroom,” LeCroy said.

For the 2018-2019 school year, the STEM Academy will be located at LeCroy Career Technical Center with LeCroy and Jason Sosa as teachers. LeCroy said this will give the program more space than it had at Chilton County High School. Senior Research and mechatronics will be new classes offered.

Students from every Chilton County high school can apply to the STEM Academy program.