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WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Watson College News

Angelia Reid-Griffin Receives NC Outstanding STEM Educator Award

Friday, September 11, 2020

Angelia Reid-Griffin has received the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMT) Center’s 2020 award for excellence in informal STEM education. The Outstanding Informal Educator award honors an educator who works outside the traditional classroom and excels in engaging children and teenagers in science, math and technology activities.

Reid-Griffin is a professor of secondary science education at the Watson College. In 2005, she helped found UNCW’s Junior Seahawk Academy, and she has served as coordinator of the program since 2007. The academy’s primary goal is to motivate underrepresented students’ interests in learning by allowing them to engage in real-world, hands on, STEM field experiences that take place outside of the formal classroom. To date the Junior Seahawk Academy has served more than 500 middle school aged students in southeastern North Carolina.

“Angie Reid-Griffin is a rare exemplar of how talent, expertise, creativity, leadership and a commitment to learners come together in one person’s work and impact,” said Watson College Dean Van Dempsey. “She is most deserving of this award, and the legacy she has already created with STEM learners will only be matched by the way she will drive aspirations and opportunities together for children in the future. It is an honor for all of us in the Watson College to have her as our colleague and friend.”

Reid-Griffin earned her Ph.D. from NC State University and joined the faculty at UNCW in 2003. Under her guidance, the Junior Seahawk Academy has grown from a summer program serving approximately 30 middle school students each year to a program that serves more than 60 students per year and includes year-round student learning opportunities and support. Reid-Griffin has fostered collaborations between UNCW’s Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, local school systems and STEM partners in the business and broader community designed to challenge students through innovative workshops and inquiry-based instruction.

In 2015, Reid-Griffin was among the women selected for INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s “100 Inspiring Women in STEM” award, and the Junior Seahawk Academy received the magazine’s 2018 "Inspiring Programs in STEM" award. INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

“I am truly honored by this award and recognition,” Dr. Reid-Griffin said. “Through the campus and community partnerships, Jr Seahawk Academy has been able to provide structured STEM experiences, a supportive environment and individualized mentoring that help students to extend cognitive skills and gain confidence in their academic abilities. This is very important for energetic and inquisitive middle grade learners. I am extremely happy that our efforts to promote STEM education for youth is being recognized at the state level.” 

Reid-Griffin’s Outstanding Informal Educator award will be officially presented at SMT’s annual Celebration of Science, Mathematics and Technology to be held in Raleigh in April 2021.

The N.C. Science, Mathematics, and Technology Center is focused on improving education as a means of providing all students in North Carolina with the knowledge and skills to have successful careers, be good citizens, and advance the economy of the state. Promoting innovation and change in education, the SMT Center celebrates educational excellence in North Carolina by supporting educators, engaging students, and advancing the growing importance of having a STEM-educated workforce.

Reid-Griffin is the second Watson College faculty member to receive the award from the SMT Center. Youth Programs Director Sue Kezios was named SMT’s outstanding informal STEM educator in 2016.