Michealrose Ravalier, a third-year science teacher at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas represented the Virgin Islands public education system at the 2018 National Science Teacher Association’s (NSTA) National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia held March 14-18, 2018. As one of the nation’s 15 National New Science Teacher Award recipients, she was awarded the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers by the National Science Teachers Association.
The theme of the five-day conference was “Science on My Mind” which was witnessed by approximately 10,000 educators. A mentor teacher with the VI Institute for STEM Education Research and Practice (VI-ISERP) program, Ms. Ravalier traveled with her colleague, Dr. Michele Guannel of VI-ISERP, who nominated her for the award. Dr. Guannel is also the Associate Professor of the Action Research in Mathematics Course at the University of the Virgin Islands.
According to Dr. Guannel, the awards gala was literally a red-carpet event for a good cause. “Nationally, about half of all teachers leave the profession within their first five years,” she said. “This event recognized those stellar teachers, such as Ms. Ravalier, who work tirelessly to provide their students with creative, inclusive, and rigorous learning environments. Ongoing support and recognition are critical to retaining excellent educators. And, by encouraging and inspiring one person at a time, those educators go on to inspire other educators as well as their own students, which further strengthens our community.”
During the conference, Ravalier networked with the science education community, and learned new instructional models in the world of science education. “It has been a great honor and a humbling experience to receive the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers. Having the opportunity to interact with thousands of science educators, community partners, STEM related organizations and companies has been totally awesome,” Ms. Ravalier said upon her return to the islands.
Ms. Ravalier also has a lot to say about her experience and how it will overflow and relate to her students’ educational needs. “When we as STEM and Science educators have science on our minds it will manifest itself in our interactions with our students. Making learning engaging and fun for my students are goals I set for myself,” she said. “When students can step into the classroom, and feel the love and magic of science, only then would I feel a small sense of accomplishment. The task is monumental but reaching one mind at a time is how this dream can be realized.”
Sensing the need for more scientists, the NSTA awardee commented, “Our world is in dire need for those who will take up the challenges we face every day; from global warming, to clean water supplies, efficient disaster debris cleanup equipment and innovative engineering methods to fabricate structures that can withstand Category 5 hurricanes are just a few of the problems that need urgent solutions. It is encouraging to note the effort and energy dedicated to preparing my students is shared by many educators not just in our territory but all across the nation.”
Ms. Ravalier is the first educator from the United States Virgin Islands to receive this award. Annually, up to 100 teachers nationwide apply for this award. The award provides outstanding K-12 teachers in their first five years of teaching with funds to attend the annual NSTA National Conference on Science Education, as well as ongoing mentoring support. Additional funding for Ms. Ravalier’s participation was provided by VI-ISERP.
Ms. Ravalier’s participation along with 14 other science teachers was sponsored by Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers. The Award provides selected K–12 teachers (up to 25) in their first five years of teaching with funds to attend the annual National Conference on Science Education. Award recipients are mentored, tracked, and provided with continuing opportunities for meaningful involvement with NSTA and its activities.
To be eligible, a teacher must be within the first five years full-time at the time of application and be an NSTA member in good standing; to the extent possible, recipients must have been a student member of NSTA as a preservice teacher. The award consists of up to $1,000 to be used to attend the annual National Conference. Recipients will be invited to attend a variety of workshops and presentations that are of particular interest to new teachers at the annual National Conference.
Congratulations, Ms. Ravalier, on your well-deserved honor!