Dr. Janice Mooney-Frank, 2014 NEST Teacher of the Year, and Steve Cremer, 2013-2014 NEST Co-Chair
Announcing the 2014 NEST Teacher of the Year, Dr. Janice Mooney-Frank!
By Emily Martin, August 27, 2014
There are two ways I could approach the announcement of this year's Teacher of the Year: I could tell you about her achievements, the same way her nominators did in the letters they sent me; OR I could draw upon the single evening I spent with Jan to tell you how she presented herself as the 2014 NEST Teacher of the Year. For Jan, I choose the latter - because it was truly the presentation of herself that stood out. Especially among NEST members, who all do incredible work, her outstanding achievements are not what most sets her apart (even as impressive as they are!). Instead, it's Jan's enthusiasm, her thoughtfulness, and the powerful way she brings people together.
Amazingly, just one evening with Jan was enough to understand why so many people voiced their support of Jan for this award - when I met her that day, I noticed her energy immediately, and her affection for people is the quality I'll remember most from her presentation that night. And, of course energy and affection for people are two traits that make a great teacher! In the letters of support Jan's colleagues sent, they recognized how she harnesses both traits for the sake of STEM education - with students and their families at the Academy of Aerospace & Engineering Elementary School in Rocky Hill, Connecticut; with other teachers and administrators at CREC schools (Capitol Regional Education Council magnet schools); and with companies and institutions outside of her district… such as MIT!
One of Jan's admirers from the Connecticut State Department of Education wrote: "She reminds me of the 'Pied Piper', enticing teachers and students to follow her down a path of joyful investigation and discovery… From the aerodynamics of flight, to the adaptations of wiggly worms, to the buoyancy of different materials, Jan knows how to get teachers and students thinking, talking, writing and calculating in order to learn about our world."
Jan was introduced by her CREC colleague Teresa Wilson, and the ToY award was presented to her by NEST Co-chair, Steve Cremer (SEPT Class of 1991). Then, Jan gave a presentation that lived up to all her accolades and remarked on the privilege of being on the Bartos Theater stage in front of an esteemed audience of NEST members. Her slides showed how much she valued being part of the communities that defined her career, and she gave tribute to the many individuals who inspired her - from researchers at the MIT Media Lab in the 1980's and now (including SEPT 2014 presenter, Fred Martin, of iSENSE) to her family and colleagues, many of whom drove from CT to join the NEST banquet that evening. Jan's husband and children attended, along with the Principal and Literacy Coach from her school, and even the family of one of Jan's former students!
Of course, Jan also mentioned NEST as group of people that's important to her - not just because of all the amazing things NEST teachers do, but because of camaraderie that forms with each year of SEPT. I hope that a common connection to MIT and mutual respect for outstanding teaching always brings NEST members back to present themselves each year… keeping in mind Jan's example that not only does the Teacher of the Year deserve acknowledgment, but also everyone who supports and inspires teachers like her! Thank you, Jan!
- Opening Remarks - Prof. Eric Klopfer, Co-Director of SEPT and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program
- 25 Years of SEPT - Joe Scheller, MIT Class of 1954
- Presentation of the 2014 NEST Teacher of the Year Award - Steve Cremer (SEPT '90) and John Steczak (SEPT '02), Co-Chairs, Network of Educators in Science & Technology
- Dr. Janice Mooney-Frank, 2014 NEST Teacher of the Year