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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

SU Alumna Awarded Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship

Carrie KerchnerSALISBURY, MD---The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) has named Salisbury University alumna Carrie Kerchner one its 2015 Teaching Fellows.

The five-year, early-career award is valued at up to $150,000. Only 34 were honored nationwide; all are promising high school mathematics and science teachers.

Kerchner, of Bishopville, is a first-year algebra teacher at Wicomico High School. She earned bachelor’s degrees in marketing (2004) and mathematics/secondary education (2014) from SU.

“Over the last 10 years, I realized that teaching mathematics is my true calling,” she said, after transitioning from a sales/marketing management career. “I am passionate about mathematics, and ... I cannot think of a better way to use my passion than shaping the minds of children.”

KSTF’s signature Teaching Fellows Program empowers young teachers to foster educational improvement by reaching thousands of students each year and taking on leadership roles to strengthen math and science classroom education. 

Kerchner and the other fellows attend three annual meetings to learn about STEM issues. They are eligible for professional development grants; they also may join a professional organization and work one-on-one with KSTF representatives on classroom observations and biannual reviews to foster growth.

Opportunities for additional support include annual stipends, as well as grants for leadership efforts, National Board Certification, and teaching materials and school supplies (such as clickers or tablet sets, Kerchner said). 

KSTF’s goal is to create a sustainable corps of teachers who are trained and supported from the beginning of their careers and have the capacity to drive positive change in the U.S. educational system. This includes combatting challenges related to shortages of quality teachers and lagging student interest and proficiency in STEM areas. 

Kerchner already benefitted from a “fantastic support system” while at SU.

"The education and mathematics departments at SU are outstanding!” she said. “The education program prepared me well for leading my very own classroom. The mathematics program was rigorous, challenging and enjoyable all at the same time.  I always knew that I could go to any of my professors for help.”

She recalled that Dr. Jennifer Bergner, an advisor, was available to offer support whenever needed. “I learned so much not only from what she taught but how she taught it,” Kerchner said. She added that Drs. Jathan Austin and Bob Tardiff challenged her to think abstractly about mathematics and different ways to approach the subject, while Dr. Randall Groth taught her about integrating math-specific technology. 

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.


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