Mil­ton Somers math teacher named Space Foun­da­tion li­ai­son

One of 28 to be hon­ored in Colorado at April sym­po­sium

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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