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Kristen Kane Receives NCSTA Science Teacher Award

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Kristen Kane has received the 2021 North Carolina Science Teachers Association District 2 Outstanding High School Science Teacher Award. Kane is a biology and chemistry teacher at Duplin Early College High School, and a participant in Youth Programs’ I-40 E.A.S.T. program. The award was presented November 4.

“I am really proud of Kristen,” said Sue Kezios, Youth Programs director and principal investigator on the I-40 E.A.S.T. grant. “Kristen participated in the grant all three years, and really took inspiration from it. In 2020, she was awarded a PRISM grant from the Burroughs Welcome Foundation. She was also selected for the virtual Science, Teachers, and Research Summer (STaRS) Experience, a professional development workshop for NC science teachers hosted and facilitated by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park.”

I-40 E.A.S.T. is a STEM Student Enrichment Program (SSEP) funded by the Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation. The program, introduced by UNCW’s Youth Programs in 2018, aims to keep the best and brightest students in their home counties by encouraging them to engage in STEM career exploration and local STEM-based future development. I-40 E.A.S.T programs were led by teachers from Duplin and Sampson counties and UNCW graduate student mentors. Kane applied and was selected to participate in the program as a first-year teacher.

Kane and the students completed nine lab investigations and a Summer Community Planning Institute in year one. In the spring of year two, the same students attended three regional agriculture festivals where they presented information and gave demonstrations on the STEM topics they investigated in year one. I-40 E.A.S.T. went on hiatus in March 2020 due to the pandemic, but Kane continued with the program when it was relaunched as a virtual program later that year. She also continued to provide her students at DECHS high quality science instruction during remote, hybrid, and in-person learning scenarios during the 2020-21 school year.

In a news release announcing the award, Tanya V. Smith, Principal, Duplin Early College High School, said, “Mrs. Kane maintained a high level of academic rigor while also providing affective support to all students. During the year, her students engaged in many online simulations (i.e., Macromolecules in food). She continued to ensure students were able to complete virtual and in person labs. Some of the resources she used included flipgrid and labster. Students used practical materials to build model Mitosis/Meiosis models. The students have enjoyed the hands-on, high level of inquiry in her classes.”

Kane was recently named a member of the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s inaugural cohort of the Rural Teacher Leader Network. RTLN is designed to bring together diverse groups of educators across North Carolina who seek to strengthen their practice, foster community with teacher leaders from across other rural districts, and develop their own leadership capacity in order to guide other teachers in their schools. The network aims to create a strong and lasting community of rural educators with a focus on equity, trauma-informed practice, global education, and teacher leadership. 

About the NCSTA Award

The NCSTA District Outstanding Science Teacher award is given annually to a person exhibiting leadership in science education; contributing to improvements in science education; and excelling in the aspects of science education. The award is open to teachers at the elementary, middle and high school grade levels. The winners will receive an award and one year's membership in NCSTA.