Professional Development is the lifeblood of our practice. It rejuvenates our teaching, energizes our students’ learning and most importantly supports Powhatan’s motto of “learning for life”. This morning, as is our tradition, we awarded two professional development grants – The Barbara and Harry F. Byrd III STEM Professional Development Award and the Mary B. Porterfield Award for Continuing Education in Mathematics and Technology.

We are truly grateful to both of these families for their generosity, year after year, to this vital component of our practice and for their commitment to keeping teachers inspired and refreshed in their teaching.

The Mary B. Porterfield Award for Continuing Education in Mathematics and Technology goes to second grade teacher, Jackie Brondstater. The award is given each year to a teacher of mathematics or technology who shows a passion for these areas of the curriculum and best supports the needs and goals of the school in these areas. This year’s recipient uses project based learning to teach the principles of economics to her students by creating a project where students manage a “Spirit Store” during Spirit Week in May. The concepts of profit/revenue and deficit/loss are taught through hands-on activities such as creating spirit products to sell, fairly pricing these items, and then deciding what the market will bare for cost reduction if needed. All of these skills are being learned as the students practice addition, subtraction, and other math functions. Finally, the proceeds from this project are given to a local agency that provides food for hungry children in our area, teaching our students the importance of giving back to our broader community.

The Barbara and Harry F. Byrd III STEM Professional Development Award goes to third grade teacher, Lee Slavin. This award is given to a teacher of a STEM related field who inspires students and teachers interest and learning in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Through his/her ardent love of one of these subjects, this teacher furthers the goals of our STEM program and champions the vital incorporation of them into the curriculum. How could we not have become involved in collecting caps last year? Whether students were collecting, counting, or teaching us about the importance of eliminating caps from our recycling bins, we could not help but be “cap”tivated by this remarkable hands-on project. What a wonderful way to involve our whole community (and beyond) in an activity that weaves concepts from the areas of both math and science with environmental stewardship. We are all looking forward to seeing the benches that our cap collection will create.

The two teachers awarded today will receive funding to attend a workshop of their choice in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

*photos credited to Cathy Barr