By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center (SMT Center) annually offers awards to recognize individuals and organizations for their contributions to science, mathematics, and technology education in North Carolina.

Nominations are accepted each fall. Recipients of the awards recently were honored at the Celebration of Science, Mathematics, and Technology at the Embassy Suites in Cary.

Recipients received a trophy and a video documenting their achievements. Individuals received an honorarium or scholarship.

This year’s SMT Award recipients are:

Meredith Cheetham and Sonja McKay, Exploris Middle School

Cheetham and McKay, science and mathematics team teachers at Exploris Middle School in Raleigh, each received this year’s Outstanding K-8 Educator Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. This recognizes North Carolina educators who excel in fulfilling the mission of the SMT Center. For the past four years, both have guided their students drawing upon each teacher’s strength while demonstrating to students that greater outcomes are achieved through collaboration, not in isolation.

Marie Hopper, FIRST programs

Marie Hopper received this year’s Outstanding Informal Educator Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. This award recognizes a North Carolina informal educator (an educator who works outside the traditional classroom) who excels in engaging young people in STEM activities and experiences. For the last 10 years, through the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) programs, she has dedicated herself to giving students of all ages a fun and exciting environment to apply math and science knowledge, solve problems, make decisions, communicate complex ideas, collaborate as part of a team, exercise leadership, manage resources, create and execute business plans – all essential skills in any successful technological enterprise. Hopper has made possible the exploration of science and technology for thousands of youth through her many years of leadership in FIRST Lego League Robotics for middle school students, and then later in the high school competitions of FIRST Robotics Competitions.

Ivan Kuznetsov, Enloe High School

Ivan Kuznetsov is the 2012 recipient of the Student Leadership Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. This award recognizes a North Carolina student who provides extraordinary support to STEM education. A senior at W.G. Enloe High School, he is passionate about math and science as demonstrated by his successful completion of all of the possible AP courses in math and science. But, he is equally committed to getting others excited about those fields of study. In addition to tutoring his fellow Enloe students, Kuznetsov re-established the Science Days Club at Enloe where students work as volunteers to introduce elementary school students to science and to enrich their science knowledge.

Dr. Jeff Moss, Lee County Schools

Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Moss received the Outstanding Administrator Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. This award recognizes a North Carolina K-16 education administrator who excels in fulfilling the mission of the SMT Center. Moss has led an instructional technology revolution for the students and teachers in Lee County by developing a strategic plan to place technology in the hands of students and teachers to improve academic achievement. During this journey, he has engaged the public and nurtured mutually-beneficial partnerships with community leaders and businesses.

Public School Forum of North Carolina, Collaborative Project

The Collaborative Project at the Public School Forum of North Carolina received the Partnership Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. This award recognizes North Carolina organizations whose innovative partnership supports the advancement of STEM education. The Collaborative Project, a 21st century initiative of the N.C. General Assembly, was a model of best practices in partnerships. The Collaborative Project brought together five rural schools systems, various professional organizations, and the SMT Center to provide leadership development for teachers and administrators. The goal was to improve student performance and increase recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators. With all partners working together and sharing leadership, the Collaborative Project was able to achieve remarkable results including an increase of math scores that equaled an additional 51 days of instruction.

Laura Stiles, Wakefield High School

Laura Stiles received the Outstanding 9-16 Educator Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. Stiles is a biology and forensics science teacher at Wakefield High School in Wake County. When colleagues are asked to describe her, they mention how supportive she is of her students. Stiles provides her students with opportunities to explore, examine, question, and experiment without the fear of failure. She also works hard to ensure learning is conveyed through various media – lecture, labs, worksheets, student projects, presentations, and more; ensuring that all types of learning styles are engaged in the learning process.

Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds

TWC received the Business and Industry Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. This award recognizes a North Carolina business or industry whose support has strengthened science, mathematics, and technology preK-12 education programs in either formal or informal settings. Connect a Million Minds is Time Warner Cable’s primary philanthropic initiative with a mission to inspire and engage young people to pursue careers and educational opportunities in STEM. Each year, TWC invests $2.2 million in grants and in-kind support throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Greensboro-Triad, Greater Triangle, Fayetteville, and the coastal areas. TWC also has created its own innovative STEM programs, such as the Super Connector Search that spotlights TWC customers who are connecting young people in their communities to the wonders of STEM, and also have been an effective partner with existing STEM programs like the N.C. Science and Engineering Fair and N.C. Science Olympiad.

Profiles and videos of the individuals or organizations honored will be featured on the SMT Center website.