St. Andrews senior to take part in STEM Infusion model in Moore County Schools
As the spring semester at St. Andrews University begins, senior education major Ashley McNeill will begin her student teaching experience working with Moore County's Southern Middle School.
While most candidates in the teacher education program student teach with a single teacher, McNeill will be working with multiple teachers as a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Infusion model funded by a more than $2 million investment by the Mebane Foundation.
"We are extremely excited about this generous investment of funds by the Mebane Foundation," said Moore County Superintendent Dr. Susan Purser. "The Foundation's decision to invest in our school system is a celebration of our future and a validation of the foundational work that has been established by our teachers, administrators and other staff through our vision of Growing to Greatness. They have seen something special here that is worth nurturing and growing, and, as a result, our students, teachers and the community as a whole will reap the benefits."
The Mebane Foundation's STEM Infusion model features intensive use of computer technology and employs classroom cells composed of master, beginning and student teachers who are joined by curriculum and technology experts in professional learning and support communities. The model is based on state-of-the-art research and best practices that consistently demonstrate the most effective way to boost student achievement is through intensive teacher development.
While McNeill qualifies as the student teacher in the scenario, she has been around teaching her entire life.
"Almost every woman on both sides of my family was or is a teacher," she said. "I can remember telling people at a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. After being a teacher's assistant in high school, I knew I wanted to work with sixth grade. Sixth grade is absolutely my favorite grade to be around and teach because they are not babies anymore but they are not at the age where they are trying to talk back and be disrespectful."
Math and science are areas that have always held an interest for McNeill and she is grateful for the opportunity to pass that enthusiasm on to the students.
"My goal for this program is to learn new ways to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math into the everyday lessons," McNeill said. "I also want to learn as much as I can from the two teachers I will be working with. Finally, I want to gain as much knowledge from each person at Southern Middle School so that I can become the best teacher I can be."
McNeill is grateful for the opportunity that stems from her selection of the teacher's education program at St. Andrews University.
"When I started looking into colleges my junior and senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to find a school that was well known for their teacher education program and would give me a scholarship to play soccer," she said. "I had heard many wonderful things about the teacher education program at St. Andrews and knew that I needed to go look at the school.
"When I went to for a visit at St. Andrews, I was greeted by Dr. (Rona Leach) McLeod and Dr. (Teresa) Reynolds. They spent a lot of time that day explaining to me what the teacher education program was like and how they could help me succeed in whatever teaching field I wanted to go into. They also made me feel welcome and at home that day."
After finding the education program she wanted, McNeill started researching the soccer program. She was able to get a soccer scholarship to go along with her place in teacher education program.
At the start of her senior year, a key person entered the equation in the form of Becky Cameron, assistant professor of education.
"I went to her one day after I had finished my classes to introduce myself to her," McNeill said. "Professor Cameron greeted me with open arms and made me feel as if I had known her my whole life. She asked me what grade I wanted to teach and what my concentrations were. She informed me about the wonderful opportunity of becoming a STEM student teacher and about the Mebane Foundation. I was stunned and excited as she told me about this wonderful opportunity in Moore County.
"I was thinking this is too good to be true," she continued. "I know Moore County well because it is right next to Lee County, my home county. I also knew that Moore County was an absolutely wonderful county to teach in. I decided that I would go through the interview process of interviewing for the STEM student teacher position because of how amazing everything sounded."
That encouragement from Cameron, along with the instruction McNeill received from the other members of the teacher education program means a lot to her.
"I would like to thank Becky Cameron for giving me the information about this program and for helping me every step of the way and supporting me," she said. "Without her, I would not be able have this wonderful opportunity. I am very grateful to her. I would also like to thank all my teacher education program professors for supporting me, caring for me, and for helping me to become the best teacher I can be. Without their help I would not be where I am today in my teaching education. I will always be grateful to all of them and they will hold a special place in my heart."
With her selection, McNeill is confident that it will be a successful experience.
“With all of the knowledge and cooperation of all of the teachers and administrators at Southern Middle, the amount of knowledge and firsthand experience will be invaluable," she said. "They have taken me under their wings and will ensure that when this experience has come to an end, I have lots of the skills and knowledge needed to become the best teacher that I can be. How wonderful is that?"
About the Mebane Foundation
The Mebane Foundation, a catalyst for innovative education programs with headquarters in Mocksville, is committed to ensuring children in North Carolina receive top-tier, cutting edge education that will open doors for them to greater career opportunities and fulfilling, successful lives. Founded in 1922 by North Carolina businessman and philanthropist Allen Mebane, the foundation has invested millions of dollars in bold initiative like the one in Moore County that empower more and more children to succeed.
About St. Andrews University
St. Andrews is a student and teaching-focused University which offers a broad range of undergraduate majors in a curriculum that is global in scope and practical in its application. St. Andrews has added a first graduate level program with a Masters in Business Administration. The quality of the St. Andrews educational experience has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and GI Jobs among others. In addition to its academic programs, the University has an acclaimed university press, men’s and women’s athletic teams, a nationally competitive equestrian program, and an award-winning pipe band. St. Andrews is a branch of Webber International University, Florida. Further information may be obtained by visiting the University’s website www.sapc.edu, calling 800-763-0198, or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.