Colorado STEM teachers recognized, awarded stipend
The Society for Science's Advocate Program recognizes teachers who go above and beyond to support students in STEM classrooms. 84 educators have been named for the 2022-2023 school year, including three from Colorado.
John Wiley, a teacher at Challenge School in Cherry Creek School District, has been getting students excited about science for over 20 years. This is his second year being recognized by the Society for Science.
"My goal with science is to teach them how to think like a scientist," said Wiley. "I focus on designing experiments, conducting experiments, and then constructing explanations about how the world works as a scientist would. Student engagement is always higher."
In addition to being recognized, Wiley will receive a $3,000 stipend from the Society for Science to help guide students in scientific research.
The stipend he received last year was helpful in purchasing extra materials for kids that needed them.
"Some of what I do is purchase equipment out of my own pocket for kids' projects. Sometimes there's just no way to get what students need through the proper channels or there's a time crunch," said Wiley.
Wiley says the stipend will also allow him to compensate himself for his own time spent working after hours.
"Conducting science fair experiments and registering kids for competitions and mentoring students after school and on weekends and evenings is a huge time commitment," he explained.
It takes resources to do class projects like sending balloons to near space. This recognition will allow Wiley to impact students in his classroom and beyond.
"I get to recruit and mentor students from underrepresented communities and get them to participate in science fair competitions. That means a lot to me," said Wiley.
Mentors present their students with research opportunities and help them enter projects into science fairs, making STEM career pathways more welcoming and inclusive.
Seeing students succeed in class and years down the road is the most rewarding part of his job.
"I get to relive that excitement every time a student has that "ah-ha" moment when that light bulb goes off. You see the understanding of a phenomenon sink in," said Wiley. "That moment happens all the time in here and I get to be there when it does."
Other Colorado educators receiving this honor include Amy Melby, a teacher at Yuma High School and Erin Mayer with Casey Middle School in Boulder Valley School District.
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