RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers that recognizes outstanding STEM teachers in the North Carolina public primary and secondary schools.
The award provides $175,000 over five years and is available to North Carolina teachers who have an outstanding performance record in educating children and who demonstrate a solid knowledge of STEM content.
“We are proud to recognize these outstanding teachers,” said Fund President and CEO Dr. Louis Muglia. “This award benefits not only the individual teachers but a much broader community. These inspirational teachers are leaders and innovators.”
The 2021 recipients of the Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers are:
Krista Rose Brinchek
Science Specialist Teacher
Abbotts Creek Elementary School
Wake County Public School System
Project: Go Outside and Learn! Using Nature Connections to Reduce Inequalities and Build Sustainable Communities
Kirsta Brinchek has served as the Science Specialist for K-5th grade at Abbotts Creek Elementary School since its opening. She believes in the Wake County Public Schools Core belief that every student deserves to be challenged in meaningful learning each day. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from North Carolina State University. Prior to her teaching career, she was a licensed Environmental Geologist working in the environmental consulting field for more than seven years. She received her Environmental Science undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont.
Krista combines environmental science, citizen science projects, project-based learning, and community service to make learning authentic, meaningful, and relevant. Her time as an Environmental Geologist helped her form the core belief that students must be trusted with meaningful work (e.g. Collection and transmission of data to scientists through citizen science programs). She developed the innovative Green STEM program at Abbotts Creek ES where each grade level is responsible for a different Citizen Science program each year. She frequently collaborates and brings into the classroom local STEM professionals, knowing that students are most likely to view themselves positively pursuing STEM careers if they are introduced to successful scientists and engineer career paths at an early age.
Ms. Brinchek has also received recognition for her work in the classroom through receiving the North Carolina Environmental Educator of the Year Award, the North Carolina Outstanding Earth Science Educator Award, North Carolina Science Teacher Association District 3 Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher Award and the North Carolina Entomological Society Outstanding Teacher Award.
Wally Keith Burgess
Middle Grades Science Teacher
Druid Hills Academy
Project: Bridge to STEM Careers
Keith Burgess is a native of the Bronx, New York, and a 2001 graduate of Johnson C. Smith University where he received his B.S. in Biology. In 2015, he changed careers to become a middle grades science teacher at Druid Hills academy. Mr. Burgess is currently working on his PhD in Urban Education at UNC-Charlotte, where his primary research focuses on STEM enrichment for urban middle grades students. His research has allowed him to travel and present at both international and national education conferences. In 2019, Mr. Burgess was awarded a Kenan Fellowship for teacher leadership sponsored by North Carolina State University. Also, in 2020 he received the Visiting Doctoral Student Fellowship from the University of Vermont. Additionally, Keith was selected as Teacher of the Year for 2020 at Druid Hills Academy by his colleagues and received a Burroughs Wellcome Fund PRISM award. As a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, he actively participates in various community service projects throughout the year. He is the proud father of three children, Camille, Corrine, and Chase, as well as the oldest son of Wally Sr. and Marie Burgess.
Amanda G Clapp
The Catamount School
Operated by Western Carolina University in partnership with Jackson County Schools
Project: Building Bridges: Using STEM to cross the Rural-Urban divide
Ms. Amanda Clapp teaches middle grades science at the Catamount School (TCS), Western Carolina University’s (WCU) laboratory school. Additionally, she serves as an instructor of science education methods for the university. Ms. Clapp holds a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation and Physical Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a master’s in Primate Ecology and Evolution from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a 2019 Keenan Fellow and currently completing her second master’s in STEM Education at WCU.
Before becoming a full-time educator, Ms. Clapp served as a naturalist at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and studied lemurs in Madagascar. Her teaching career includes middle grades science and high school Biology, Wildlife, and Earth Science within Jackson County Public Schools before joining TCS.
Ms. Clapp works to engage students in project-based science inquiry and is passionate about fostering high-quality science instruction in collaboration with other educators across the state. Her current focus is on place-based learning and student exploration of their home communities.
Lindsay Michelle Smith
Mooresville High School
Mooresville Graded School District
Project: Creating a Community of Citizen Scientists
Lindsay Smith has served in the teaching profession for the past nineteen years and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She currently teaches Marine Science, Environmental Earth Science, and AP Environmental Science at Mooresville High School in Mooresville, NC.
Prior to Mooresville she taught for seven years outside the city of Detroit, MI, and was an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow for two terms with the NOAA Office of Education in Washington, DC. To connect her students to scientists and real-time data she has participated in the Ocean Exploration Trust Science Communications Fellowship, NOAA Teacher at Sea, and the NSF PolarTREC program. Through these experiences, she traveled to Antarctica, the Bering Sea, Galapagos Islands, and the Caribbean Sea to bring real science into her classroom and encourage her students to be scientists too.
Ms. Smith has degrees from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and countless hours of professional development. She has given over 50 presentations at professional conferences on best practices in science education and technology implementation and holds leadership positions in the NC Science Teachers Association and NC Science Leadership Association. Her past awards include North Carolina Science Leadership Fellow, Macomb County Environmental Educator of the Year, South Lake High School Teacher of the Year, Mooresville School District Teacher of the Year, North Carolina Outstanding Earth Science Teacher, and the Southeast Regional Outstanding Earth Science Teacher.
“We’re so excited to have four amazing North Carolina public school STEM teachers join our network of teacher leaders who are not only facilitating STEM instruction and learning within their classrooms, they seek to have an impact across their respective regions and across the state,” says Alfred Mays, Director and Chief Strategist for Diversity and STEM Education at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
In addition to the various elements of funding support provided by the CASMT award, this year’s cohort of grantees will have the benefit of mentorship and specific professional development opportunities related to their chosen projects. The award offers schools and school districts the opportunity to fully develop and empower teachers as leaders in the field.
The next cycle of this grant program will begin in June 2022 with selections being made in 2023. The grant award will be renamed the Career Awards for STEM Teachers (CAST).
Media Contact: Russ Campbell at email@example.com