WHS Principal Melissa Williams said she appreciates the contributions both teachers make to the school and is proud of their recognitions.
“Brandie, who is our Teacher of the Year, has served as Heather’s mentor. Heather started here two years ago as a student teacher and as soon as we had a position available, we hired her,” Williams said. “... She acted like a veteran [teacher] from day one, so her earning the Teacher of Promise award has really furthered her interest and spark in more professional development and doing what she can to help with the education programs here at Woodland.
“... Students are often not interested in science, but Brandie and Heather both are those type of teachers that bring science to life every day and they are so enthusiastic about it that their students become enthusiastic about it.”
Carter, who was nominated for the award by Freeman, explained the process for applying for the award. According to www.georgiascienceteacher.org, “GSTA is an organization that seeks to help expand the levels of student achievement. We are the premier organization for sharing best practices in science education in the state of Georgia.”
“They asked certain questions, they told me to give an example of my teaching style and what I basically gear my lessons to are inquiry-based learning where I give [students] activities, labs, all those types of things first; and then later we fill in the gaps with notes and whatnot just to get the kids thinking as opposed to just feeding them information and having them regurgitate it,“ Carter said.
For example, Carter tries to create real world scenarios for her students so they can see how science is applied in one’s career.
“I teach forensics and we started our blood unit and we started our blood splatter analysis and so we’re looking at the ways different heights affect blood droplets ... from 25 centimeters all the way up to 250 centimeters,” Carter said. “They’re analyzing and looking at how maybe somebody who is in the field who doesn’t know what happened can look at this pattern and tell ... closely to what height the blood was dropped from.”
She said she has a vested interest in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics initiative and helping WHS acquire a STEM certification. The Bartow County School System was able to acquire nearly $4 million in the form of a Striving Readers Literacy Grant by placing a focus on STEM.
“With STEM you can have a certification in two ways: one is a school certification where the whole school is involved in STEM programming, but the way we’re trying to go toward is a program where we’ll have certain pathways for students where they’ll start even before their freshman year of school,” Carter said. “[They’ll take] certain AP courses that will either put them on a science or math pathway or an agriculture pathway or an engineering pathway and so when they graduate they can have that little piece of information they can put on their applications to help them with whatever career path they’re trying to get to.”
Freeman, who said most of her science training has been in the fields of geology and meteorology, is excited about this summer’s American Wilderness Leadership School professional development program.
“The field experiences we will have in Yellowstone National Park and in the Teton National Forest will help to bolster my content knowledge in the field of ecology, most specifically aquatic ecosystems and population monitoring,” Freeman said. “I hope to use this field experience to strengthen my instruction in these areas in my AP Environmental science classes.”
Her classroom grant will be used toward lab equipment for teaching about renewable energy in her AP Environmental classes.