(Sidney) -- A regular school day turned into a celebration at Sidney Elementary School Friday.
That's because Allison Gregg, a second grade teacher at the school, received the STEM Education Award for Inspired Teaching in a special student assembly inside the school's Cowboy Cafe. Sponsored by Kemin Industries, a Des Moines-based nutritional ingredient manufacturer, the award celebrates teachers whose leadership and dedication to Iowa's STEM initiative increases student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Gregg receives $3,000 as one of six recipients statewide. Fifteen hundred of that can be used to purchase items in the classroom, the other half for her personal use. Gregg was in a state of disbelief when interviewed by KMA News.
"I'm still trembling," laughed Gregg. "I'm still shaking. It's amazing. This is awesome. This is a great opportunity for the school. I can't wait to see the great things I can by to put back into my classroom, and for the science department, and for the technology things we can do at the school."
Gregg says intergrating STEM-based education has made a difference at Sidney Elementary.
"I know overall, even our test scores have gone up in Sidney on the Iowa Assessments," she said. "I think it's had a huge impact. We started this initiative about three years ago, and I think it will keep growing."
In announcing her selection, Heidi Lowthorp, a Sidney School Board member and a member of Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds' STEM Advisory Board, presented Gregg with a lab jacket, signifying her "pint-size science" program at the school.
Deb Frazee manages the STEM Advisory Council's southwest region, covering 62 school districts, 67 public libraries, three community colleges and three Area Education Agencies. Frazee says each of the six STEM hubs receives approximately $500,000 per year from the Iowa Legislature. She says most STEM efforts offer hands-on learning opportunities for students, as opposed to the "sit and get" education strategies of the past.
"Most of us don't go to our jobs, and sit at our desk, and wait for our employer to 'sit and get' us," said Frazee. "We have to discover, we have to organize, we have to do--and that's what we're trying to the children. And, it starts early with our preschoolers. And, we want to make sure and identify it's a program that's STEM for all. It's not just a talented and gifted program. It's a program for all students."
Frazee says Gregg's selection as the southwest Iowa recipient meant a celebration for the school's students--though not in a conventional way.
"As many elementary teachers know," she said, "a big decorated cake with elementary students is not the best thing to do early in the day. So, we created treat bags, with fruit snacks and such, and provided a mini-party of each classroom. So, when they leave the Cowboy Cafe here, they'll be having parties in their own room."
A Hamburg native, Gregg holds a bachelor's degree in early childhood and elementary education, and a master's degree in curriculum instruction, with a technology certificate.