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Surfside Middle School teacher selected for National STEM Scholar Program

Erin Elliot, a science teacher for Surfside Middle School in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Erin Elliot, a science teacher for Surfside Middle School in Panama City Beach, Florida.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 4:29 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (PRESS RELEASE) - – Nine middle school teachers from eight states have been selected to participate in the prestigious National STEM Scholar Program, a unique professional development program that provides advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training, national network building, and project support for middle school science teachers nationwide.

Erin Elliot, a science teacher for Surfside Middle School in Panama City Beach, Florida, is one of the teachers selected. She and her peers are in Bowling Green, Kentucky, this week as part of their training.

Created in partnership between the National Stem Cell Foundation and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University (WKU), the National STEM Scholar Program selects ten teachers each year from a national pool of applicants based solely on the description of a Challenge Project the applicant would implement if funds were not a barrier to execution. Selected projects are chosen for maximum impact in the middle school classrooms where research shows lifelong STEM career decisions are being made. STEM Scholars convene on WKU’s campus for a week of advanced STEM training and finalize their Challenge Projects with input from their National STEM Scholar class colleagues. Each Scholar is provided access to a generous stipend for the technology and supplies they need to implement their Challenge Projects at home.

The 2020 National STEM Scholar class will be hosted by The Gatton Academy August 4 - 9 on the campus of WKU in Bowling Green, KY. Selected from approximately 200 applicants across the country, the 2020 National STEM Scholars are:

• Allison Bogart, Lake Isabella, CA – Woodrow W. Wallace Middle

• Tammy Bartlett, Dinwiddie, VA – Dinwiddie Middle School

• Jennifer Durham, Elizabeth City, NC – River Road Middle School

• Erin Elliott, Panama City Beach, FL – Surfside Middle School

• Amanda Huff, Hopkinsville, KY – Christian County Middle School

• Rob Jackson, Topeka, KS – Seaman Middle School

• Larisa Leap, Carrollton, KY – Carroll County Middle School

• Katie Lee, McKinney, TX – Dr. Jack Cockrill Middle School

• Patrick Marti, Seattle, WA – Villa Academy

Dr. Paula Grisanti, CEO of the National Stem Cell Foundation, said, “Through our work with researchers and scientists nationwide, we became aware of the widening gap between 21st Century jobs and the U.S. STEM-educated graduates who can fill them. We added education to our mission in 2015 as a way to support the development of a new generation of scientists working to advance technology, build infrastructure and find cures for diseases and conditions that affect us all. Supporting teachers who inspire and motivate middle school students at this critical decision-making age will directly impact how many choose to pursue STEM skills that are essential for 21st Century jobs. By investing in the influential middle school STEM teacher now, we reach thousands of students in classrooms today and far into the future.” Dr. Julia Link Roberts, Executive Director of The Gatton Academy, added, “This partnership will accrue benefits for the National STEM Scholars, middle school students in their classrooms, and the middle school science teachers with whom they collaborate. The National STEM Scholar Program is an excellent way for teachers to learn new strategies and new ways to engage students to help them become and stay interested in science and math.”

To date, National STEM Scholars represent 49 middle schools in 26 states, from Alaska to New York and Wisconsin to Florida. A significant requirement of selection is the commitment to share lessons learned with colleagues in the Scholar’s home schools, districts or states, magnifying impact over multiple classrooms and years.

About the National Stem Cell Foundation

The National Stem Cell Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that funds adult stem cell and regenerative medicine research, connects children with limited resources to clinical trials for rare diseases and underwrites the National STEM Scholar Program for middle school science teachers inspiring the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pioneers nationwide. For more information, visit www.nationalstemcellfoundation.org.

About The Gatton Academy

Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science is Kentucky’s first state-supported, residential program for high school students with interests in advanced math and science careers. One of only 15 such programs in the nation, The Academy has been named to The Washington Post’s list of topperforming schools with elite students for eight consecutive years. For more information, visit www.wku.edu/academy.

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