Mantua – Crestwood Primary School teacher, Natalie Harr, was awarded the 2013-2014 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship. She is the only teacher from Ohio to receive this honor, which comes simultaneously with being named a Finalist for the Ohio’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
“I am delighted that Natalie will be joining us in the endeavors of National Science Foundation’s Cyberlearning: Transforming Education program,” said Janet Kolodner, Program Officer, and Miss Harr’s sponsor. “The program’s mission is to help us envision, design, and learn how to effectively use the next generation of learning technologies, those informed by both what is known about how people learn and the opportunities technology offers. I look forward to Natalie providing a teacher’s perspective to our program and helping our funded investigators make what they are learning available to teachers and others who might put those technologies to good use.”
Miss Harr is a first grade teacher at Crestwood Primary School. Throughout her nine years of teaching, she has worked to promote science education in the early grades. She has participated in various educational programs to improve her skills in teaching science, including an environmental science course held at the Yellowstone-Grand Teton Parks where she eventually became an instructor. In 2009 she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching in Biological Sciences via a full-tuition scholarship from Miami University, Oxford and was selected as a keynote speaker at the 2010 Earth Expeditions World Community Conference. She and her colleagues have received numerous science and technology grants and have developed an award-winning schoolyard science program at the Crestwood elementary campus. She has published several professional articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented her work on science and learning at teacher workshops, including the 2011 National Conference on Science Education.
The Crestwood-Antarctica Connection is perhaps Miss Harr’s most notable work. In 2011-2012 Miss Harr was invited to Palmer Station, Antarctica where she spent six weeks conducting research on Belgica antarctica, the world’s southernmost free-living insect. Funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Dr. Richard E. Lee Jr. from Miami University, Miss Harr was the first primary teacher invited to join the five-person team. In addition to conducting her research duties, Miss Harr spearheaded the largest educational outreach initiative in the team’s history. She presented and coordinated talks and Skype sessions that reached more than 6,000 school children, teachers and community members, and connected over thirty school districts and educational organizations nationally with current polar research using an outreach website (www.crestwoodexplorestheworld.org).
“The Crestwood-Antarctica Connection gave me the opportunity to create large-scale outreach and real-world learning opportunities for students using current educational technologies. This experience provided the perfect springboard for the Einstein Fellowship.”
Crestwood’s Board of Education approved a one-year professional leave of absence at the monthly board meeting.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Miss Harr,” said Crestwood Local Schools board member Debra Soltisz. “I’m excited to see what opportunities she will bring back to her students and the community when she returns.”
The fellowship begins September 1, 2013 and lasts for 11 months. Miss Harr plans to return to the classroom upon completion of the fellowship program.
“I feel proud to represent Ohio and Crestwood Local Schools in the national science education arena. As an Einstein Fellow, I plan to use the educational projects that I have already developed at Crestwood to expand and improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education at the state and national levels. I also plan to provide professional development for Ohio teachers when I return,” said Miss Harr.
On May 14, 2013 Harr will attend a recognition ceremony as a finalist for the Ohio Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She, along with state finalists from all 50 states, will be reviewed by a national selection committee. Two finalists from each state will receive the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science.