A new scholarship at East Carolina University helped send an eastern North Carolina science teacher to a national conference this month.
Allie Smith, an eighth grade science teacher at C.M. Eppes Middle School in Greenville, attended the annual National Science Teachers Association National Conference on Science Education in Atlanta.
Her trip was made possible by the John C. Park Scholarship, established this year by Dr. Leonard Annetta, the College of Education’s Taft Distinguished Professor of Science Education, and the ECU Center for STEM Education.
The scholarship, valued at up to $1,500, provides funding for science teachers from eastern North Carolina in their first five years of teaching to attend the annual national conference. Going forward, the endowment will provide an award for two science teachers (one in grades K-5 and another in grades 6-12) each year.
“I am so grateful to ECU and the scholarship donors for this chance to attend this conference,” she said. “ECU has steadily provided me with unmatched opportunities while I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and they continue to do so now in my second year of teaching.”
Smith received her bachelor of science in middle grades education and her master of arts in education for middle grades from ECU with concentrations in math and science education.
The scholarship is named for John C. Park, who spent 25 years as a professor of science education at North Carolina State University where he had an influence on several members of ECU’s science education faculty.
“A leader by example, John dedicated his life to his family, his church, and to education,” Annetta said. “He created innovative ways of instilling others with the curiosity and desire to learn and positively impact the world around them.”
Annetta presented Smith with the inaugural scholarship on March 8 in her classroom. He shared a letter from Park’s wife, Lory Park, about what attending professional development conferences meant to her husband’s career.
“He was troubled by the cost and the low attendance of new teachers,” Lory Park said. “Although he had little control over the cost of a conference, he himself made an effort to get the attendance of teachers just starting their careers higher by providing funding through whatever means possible for these teachers.”
Smith said she hopes to bring her students more exposure to science education.
“My goal for going to the NSTA conference in Atlanta is to find affordable ways to bring authentic science experiences to my students,” Smith said. “As a teacher in a Title I school, I work with a majority of students who, for a plethora of reasons, are unable to engage with science in a meaningful way outside of my classroom.”
To qualify for the scholarship, teachers must have taught less than five years at the time of the application within the Latham Clinical Schools Network and be a National Science Teacher Association member in good standing.
For more information or to apply for the scholarship, contact Annetta at email@example.com or 252-328-6179.
-by Cole Dittmer, University Communications