FOSS Teacher Feature: Mary Beth Meggett

FOSS Newsletter Staff
September 01, 2009 | Teacher Feature

Stiles Point Elementary School, Charleston County, South Carolina

Mary Beth Meggett, a fourth-grade teacher at Stiles Point Elementary School in Charleston County, South Carolina, has been described as "one of those teachers who understands when students are learning and does something about it when they're not."

Ellen Mintz, a FOSS consultant from South Carolina, began her relationship with Mary Beth nearly 10 years ago through a National Science Foundation grant that created training programs for teachers to increase student achievement in science. Ellen has described Mary Beth as "a terrific teacher who has become better over time." In response to the training program, Mary Beth began using the suggested strategies to determine whether students were learning and opened up her classroom for evaluation. She has been using the FOSS program for the past six years and continues to implement and improve on the teaching strategies. She adapts her lessons based on the ability of each child, and she builds trust with her students so they can take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.

Ellen nominated Mary Beth for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching this past year. The award is the highest recognition a K–12 math or science teacher can receive. The award program was established in 1983 by Congress and aims to expand and exemplify the definition of excellent science and mathematics teaching. Mary Beth was required to submit an hour-long video of her teaching, a 20-page analysis of what takes place in her classroom, proof that her children succeed in science, samples of her students' work, and videos of her training other teachers in the county.

One math and one science teacher from each state can win the award. South Carolina nominated five teachers this year, and Mary Beth won the state's award in science. Mary Beth will be honored at a White House ceremony in the fall. She will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and a presidential citation. She will also participate in a series of recognition events, information exchange programs, and visits with members of Congress and science agency leaders.

Stephen Burger, principal of Stiles Point Elementary, says Mary Beth's students often can be found working together in small groups in a sometimes noisy classroom, but students are engaged in well-planned lessons that force them to think at higher levels. "She's just a dynamic person and a hard worker," he said.

Mary Beth will be the first person to acknowledge that using science notebooks in her classroom and having the opportunity to participate in the NSF-funded Assessing Science Knowledge (ASK) project made a significant impact on her as a teacher. The strategies she learned have carried over into all aspects of her teaching.

The entire FOSS team would like to offer their congratulations to Mary Beth on her award and continued success with the teaching of FOSS for her and her students.

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Another award-winning FOSS teacher will be featured in the Spring issue of the FOSS Newsletter.