To help kick off National Appreciation Week, P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker surprised two very special teachers on Monday, May 2 to notify them that they had been chosen as year’s P-H-M 2022 Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year.
In the morning Dr. Thacker dropped by Elsie Rogers Elementary School to surprise 4th grade teacher Mrs. Amanda Fox. She was in the middle of teaching a math lesson when Dr. Thacker and Cabinet members popped into her classroom for the big surprise. Mrs. Fox is such a committed and focused teacher that she even made Dr. Thacker wait until she was finished before he could continue with the “surprise!” Click here to see the photo gallery on Elsie Rogers’ website. On Monday afternoon, Dr. Thacker stopped by Penn High School to surprise Art Teacher Mrs. Becky Hope to award her with the honor of PHM Secondary Teacher of the Year. Click here to read more.
This is one of three of Mrs. Fox's latest awards. Last week she was chosen as one of the recipients of the 2022 Michiana Forty under 40 class. The program recognizes young adults, professionals, executives and leaders, under the age of 40, achieving outstanding professional success while also engaging in his/her community through charitable and civic involvement.
Back in February, Mrs. Fox was named a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Click here to read the White House news release. This is the highest honor bestowed by the United States to K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers. President Joe Biden named 117 teachers and Mrs. Fox was among the national winners!
Mrs. Fox’s colleague and fellow teacher Becky Richhart nominated Mrs. Fox for P-H-M Elementary Teacher of the Year partially because of her passion of “devising ways to incorporate computer science concepts into existing STEM curriculum.”
Ms. Richhart recounted how recently Mrs. Fox had her students create book reports and multiplication games using a free block-based programming website. She led her students in a “telephone style” game designed to demonstrate how different parts of a computer communicate when it’s computing.
One of the things that stands out the most about Mrs. Fox is her collaboration with ND Department of Computer Science & Engineering on various research efforts funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF grants funded a K-6 ND computer science summer program, as well as Prairie Vista after-school coding classes where Mrs. Fox used to teach. She was also the first teacher sponsor of the VEX Robotics team at Prairie Vista and was the Project Lead the Way teacher.
Last summer while developing content for her classroom, Mrs. Fox participated in research activities alongside Notre Dame grad students as part of RET (National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Teachers), a program which is typically aimed at high school teachers.
Mrs. Fox was among the first cohort of teachers to help K-8 teachers develop age-appropriate curriculum to introduce students to computer science within existing STEM curricula. She also contributed to developing a framework for K-12 schools to meet new state computer science standards. Mrs. Fox also established a northern Indiana chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).
Over her eight years at P-H-M, she has “used computer science to deepen the computational thinking skills for her students,” said Ms. Richhart.