Milton Somers math teacher named Space Foundation liaison
One of 28 to be honored in Colorado at April symposium
Milton M. Somers Mid- dle School algebra teacher David Wood is taking his love of science and mathematics to a new level for his students and school community after being named a teacher liaison by the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit Space Foundation.
Wood is one of only 28 teachers selected na- tionwide to be part of the Space Foundation’s 2017 Flight of Teacher liaison program, and the only teacher from Maryland to be so honored this year, according to Charles County Public Schools.
“I’m excited, it’s an incredible opportunity,” Wood said. “It’s sort of unbelievable how exclusive it is; I had no idea when I was applying, when I saw that I was one of … 28 going, it was kind of
mind-blowing, so I’m real- ly excited.”
Wood said he has always had an interest in science, and mathematics in particular, and going into teaching just seemed a natural fit.
“I always did well at math, and always wanted to fig- ure out the math behind real-world events,” Wood said. “I was always pretty good at helping my friends with math, and so I figured, why not pursue it?”
Wood, a graduate of Mi- ami University in Oxford, Ohio, came to teach at Somers in August 2008.
He said the biggest en- joyment for him in teach- ing comes from helping students who are struggling, and also showing the real-world applications to the math he’s teaching in the classroom.
“I think one of things I do well is teaching them things in context, help- ing to explain the ‘why?’ before they ask, ‘Why do we need to learn this?’ — one of the most popular questions in math,” Wood said. “Regardless of how they thought about math before they came into my class, I want them to at least have a positive outlook on it when they leave.”
In partnership with CCPS over the past 11 years, the Space Founda- tion has been conducting summer professional de- velopment opportunities for teachers and helping the school system expand its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathe- matics (STEM) program, but Wood said he first heard of the teacher liai- son program last year.
“I thought it was some- thing I wanted to pursue even though I thought it would be really hard to get in,” Wood said.
Wood decided to apply for the program, which required essays and a les- son plan integrating space education with his subject area.
“Part of my lesson was connecting the idea of parabolas to gravity, con- necting exponential function and how they relate to the speed of a rocket as it launches,” Wood said.
Wood was notified of his selection last month.
“Teacher Liaisons are extraordinary educators who use space-related education programs and principles in the class- room to act as advocates for space-based education in their schools and dis- tricts,” according to the Space Foundation website.
The program has recognized over 250 educators from around the world as teacher liaisons since its inception in 2002.
To retain teacher liaison status, an instructor must demonstrate commitment to community outreach, teacher education, Space Foundation connection and student engagement, according to the website.
“It’s a lot of the same things you want to be doing as a teacher or administrator in terms of connecting with parents, community, students and promoting space education in general,” Wood said.
Wood and the other 2017 teacher liaisons will have the opportunity to attend the Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium April 3-6 in Colorado Springs, where they will be formally rec- ognized.
“It’s the largest gather- ing of space professionals in the world,” Wood said, “so other than being in awe the whole time, I hope to make connections and networking with oth- er teachers who are into space and math while also talking to space profes- sionals and absorbing as much knowledge as pos- sible so I can share it with our students here.”
Wood said he is grateful for the opportunity he has been provided in being named a Space Foundation teacher liaison.
“I’m incredibly excited about what I can then bring back to Charles County,” Wood said. “It’s almost surreal. I don’t even know all the positives that can come out of this, but I’m excited for them.”
David Wood, algebra teacher at Milton M. Somers Middle School, was one of 28 teachers nationwide to be selected for the Space Foundation’s 2017 Flight of Teachers liaison program.