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Teacher attends training to motivate students into pursuing math and science careers

Annie Anders, who was chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants representing all 50 states, was one of two teachers from Maryland

September 02, 2013|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Annie Anders, a magnet teacher at the Emma K. Doub School for the Integrated Arts & Technology in Hagerstown, recently attended the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, a one-week, all-expenses-paid, intensive professional development program for third- through fifth-grade teachers.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

In her 22 years of teaching, Annie Anders has had many great experiences, but the veteran teacher recently returned from what she described as “one of the best things I’ve done in my career.”

“It was a unique experience. I don’t think anything could top it,” said Anders, 43.

Anders attended the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, a one-week, all-expenses-paid, intensive professional development program for third- through fifth-grade teachers.

The goal of the program is to provide teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to motivate students to pursue careers in science and math, according to the academy’s website, www.sendmyteacher.com.

The academy was held from July 21-26 in Jersey City, N.J., where participants stayed at the Hyatt Regency, with the group of 200 chosen teachers meeting daily at the Liberty Science Center.

Anders, who was chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants representing all 50 states, was one of two teachers from Maryland.

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It was at the suggestion of then Boonsboro Elementary School Principal Hope Fuss — the school where Anders was a third-grade magnet teacher — that prompted Anders to apply.

For this school year, she is a magnet teacher at the Emma K. Doub School for the Integrated Arts & Technology in Hagerstown.

Anders said she had not heard of the program before Fuss placed a postcard about it in her school mailbox, with a note that she should consider applying. After going to the website and learning more about the program, Anders filled out an application.

As the time approached, Anders said she started having reservations about going, knowing that it meant missing time with her family shortly before the start of the school year. Her new classroom was yet to be set up, and she didn’t know anyone who would be going.

However, her apprehensions were put aside once she arrived in Jersey City.

“It was so invigorating,” she said. “Now I have close teacher friends in Colorado and Texas.”

The focus was on math and science, and highlighted the Common Core State Standards curriculum, she said.

Anders said she feels she can be a great resource to other teachers, as well as “ignite a spark in my students”.

At the conference, Anders said a lot of what was taught was on student-centered learning, with teachers asking questions.

“I felt Washington County Public Schools prepared me well for student-driven learning,” while other teachers were just being exposed to it for the first time at the conference, Anders said.

There were opportunities for hands-on experiments and investigation, which demonstrated “the power of talk” and getting students “up and doing” for better knowledge retention, instead of the more traditional approach to reading straight from a book while seated, she said.

“We had moments of thinking, ‘This is how our students feel.’ In classrooms moving at a rapid pace, sometimes you need to just sit and think. It’s good for teachers to be students. That’s what they wanted us to walk away with,” Anders said.

Phil and Amy Mickelson, parents to three school-age children, partnered with ExxonMobil to develop the academy in conjunction with the National Science Teachers Association and Math Solutions.

Anders said she hopes other Washington County teachers will apply for the program, so they can have the same opportunity she had.

“I think we have a lot of well-qualified teachers in Washington County. It would be well worth their time,” she said.

She has been married to Matt Anders for 19 years, and they have two children, Luke, 13, and Lillie, 10.

Anders, who grew up in Vermont, has taught for eight years each in Frederick County, Fairfax County, Va., and for the past six years in Washington County.

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