Congratulations to Mrs. Colleen Thomson, Director of Instruction at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, and the school team of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teachers, who have been awarded a $250 classroom grant from Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE). The grant will be used to take 4th, 5th & 6th grade students to compete in the Idaho Tech: NASA Space Consortium Mars Rover Competition at the University of Idaho on April 26th.
Colleen explained the value of students participating in the competition, “By exposing our students to STEM-related projects and competitions, we are preparing them to be successful and competitive in life. An educated person in the 21st century will need to innovate continuously as new technologies and ideas will impact all aspects of our society and world. Project-based learning, such as Mars Rover, integrates curriculum so students understand the connections between subjects and their application in the world. This requires students to use specific skills such as collaboration, teamwork, time and task management and presentation skills to conclude a project successfully. These same skills prepare them to become productive, capable citizens in a technology-dependent society. The Idaho Tech Mars Rover Competition contributes to student success and motivates them to take challenges. It benefits a broad range of students and allows them to excel.”
A nine year member of Northwest Professional Educators, Colleen appreciates having a choice of professional associations and believes that having a choice advances teacher effectiveness and professionalism. “Having choices in professional organizations promotes competition of ideas, and in America, competition makes us all raise our game. Having choices in the marketplace keeps corruption and complacency to a minimum while increasing productivity and efficiency. This is especially true for education. It is well said by The National Science Teachers Association which encourages educational freedom in their policy statement, The Freedom to Teach and the Freedom to Learn. They want the public school classroom to be ‘a free marketplace for ideas’ because ‘the teacher is professionally obligated to maintain a spirit of free inquiry, open-mindedness and impartiality in the classroom. Informed diversity is a hallmark of democracy to be protected, defended, and valued.’"
“Northwest Professional Educators is happy to provide this grant to enhance student learning at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy,” said Cindy Omlin, NWPE Executive Director. “NWPE is proud to reward educators for their hard work and creativity in the classroom. The award is certainly well-deserved as the teachers seek ways to increase student achievement.”
Professionalism is one of the reasons Colleen embraced Northwest Professional Educators as her association of choice. “The reason I joined NWPE is because I am treated as a professional. I believe in having a choice in how I choose to protect myself professionally. The reason I have continued to be a member is that since joining, I have been pleased to find that NWPE is a true professional organization bringing many different views to the multitude of issues that confront education on a regular basis. NWPE embodies high standards and expectations for education. I respect the dedication of their members. As a member, I am not told what to think. I am asked what I think. NWPE does not take positions on issues unless their membership votes in favor or in opposition by a super majority. This makes NWPE more about quality in teaching and what is best for children than about politics.”
NWPE is privileged to support the excellence, independence, and freedom of inquiry in the classroom and in the teaching profession. Congratulations again to Colleen and her team, Tana Loibl, Darlene Frates, and Beth Brubaker.