By Candice Lawrence
Over the past year, my position as the STEM Assistant Program Director at the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education has afforded me the incredible opportunity and privilege of working with the SMU STEM Team and hundreds of students and teachers located all over the United States. In this position I serve as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Camp Director for middle school students and Professional Development Instructor for teachers. Most of the students and teachers that our programs serve are located at military bases around the country. I have been able to utilize data and feedback from participants to drive our STEM curriculum, and I am always working to align our STEM curriculum to the standards in each state. I also work to educate teachers on how implement STEM activities within the schools’ current curriculum.
Before joining the STEM team I worked with the SMU CSI Camps as a teacher during the summers of 2011-12, and I was thrilled when SMU offered me a full-time position this past summer. I came to SMU after serving as the “Reading” Interventionist for Mabank Independent School District (ISD). I use the term “Reading” lightly. Due to my strong background in collecting data, math, science, and special education, I was pulled to work with different groups of students at different campuses to help prepare for the Reading, Math and Science STARR.
Prior to Mabank ISD, I was employed with McKinney ISD at Dowell Middle School. My principal, Dr. Logan Faris, and my mentor, Melissa Johnson, molded me into a “data junkie”. My passion for tracking each student with each state standard was born at Dowell Middle School. The students’ data results drove my instruction and my ability to differentiate that instruction for each student’s success. I worked closely with our team, with our administration and with our Response To Intervention department to track each student and project their success on the state science assessment. I am currently pursuing my PhD in Education, Curriculum and Instruction while also obtaining my K-12 Administration Certification. My passion for data-driven instruction has helped me choose my topic for my doctoral dissertation.
My current and previous positions, along with my previous experience, have enabled me to provide guidance and work with a diverse group of students, not only academically, but culturally as well. I have the proven ability to develop lessons and activities aligned with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills while ensuring all learning styles are present. By maintaining a safe learning environment I have been able to effectively promote student success and learning.
My ultimate goal as an educator is to provide an opportunity for the love for learning and growth. If I share my own passion for learning I feel students will see that learning can be fun and exciting, and that continual learning can present more opportunities in the future. I believe each and every student can learn. In order to be the best educator I can be I try to develop curriculum and activities around each student’s interest and level of learning. My ultimate goal is to encourage the application of content concepts to real-world contexts. I foster critical thinking skills and problem solving. Each student has the ability to reach the high standards set by the classroom educator.