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Innovative Educator: Boise teacher receives Idaho STEM Action Center award

Dr. Kellie Taylor is inspiring her students to see themselves in STEM careers.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

This week's Innovative Educator recently received a 2021 INDEEDS Award from the Idaho STEM Action Center in the kindergarten through sixth-grade category. INDEEDS stands for "Industry's Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM." It honors teachers who champion Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education and help their students possibly see themselves in a STEM career some day.

Dr. Kellie Taylor is certainly doing that for her young students at Hawthorne Elementary in Boise. She believes in lifelong learning and loves teaching.

"I really feel like the classroom is the place for me, and seeing them light up and get excited makes me get excited," Taylor said.

Taylor has a doctorate in educational technology. She puts it to good use for her second- and third-grade gifted and talented students at Hawthorne Elementary in Boise.

"Well, I have to say I think people underestimate elementary students," Taylor said. "So that's my first thing."

She says there really isn't anything they can't do. That's why she has them do coding and 3-D printing. They even fly drones.

"It's just a matter of making it approachable for them so they can explore that and grow with it," Taylor said.

Taylor makes robotics approachable for third- through sixth-graders in the after-school robotics program she runs.

"We always tell the students we want you here, we hope you stay, but if you figure out it's something that's not for you, that's OK," Taylor said. "Because that's the whole point, is to expose and give you this experience so that if it's something you think you want to do you can continue on pursuing that passion."

And she wants them to shoot for the stars. She's working to arrange a video meeting for her students with astronauts on the International Space Station.

"We're hoping that students can start picturing themselves in those positions, so if it's something they choose to do they feel like they can make those steps forward," Taylor said.

Ultimately, she hopes they leave her classroom with a way to find and pursue their passions, that they'll be problem solvers and critical thinkers, and that maybe they'll keep her in mind.

"You know, if I get invited at some point to a NASA launch because one of my students is working for NASA, I'll just have to go," Taylor said laughing.

INDEEDS AWARD

For being honored with the INDEEDS award Dr. Taylor received a check for $2,000 and up to $2,000 more to attend any STEM-related national conference. Hawthorne Elementary will also get $2,000 to fund STEM initiatives in the school. 

Taylor says she and the administrators are considering using it to send materials home with kids for family computer coding nights, and maybe to expand the after-school robotics program.

INNOVATIVE EDUCATOR NOMINATIONS AND TEACHER GRANTS

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.
Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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