When Walsingham Academy opens its doors for its 70th school year, students will have the benefit of a strengthened specialist program in the Lower School. Joining Lower School Reading Specialist Dr. Susan Morelli will be Mathematics Specialist Mary Beth Hughes and Science Specialist Kim Ward. The move keeps Walsingham on the forefront of best practices in early education and reinforces its commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.
Specialists are teacher leaders who are responsible for supporting effective instruction and student learning in their area of expertise. Specialists support teachers with integrating content into their curriculum and are able to look at the Walsingham educational experience as a whole, ensuring that students are exposed to areas of content at an appropriate depth throughout their journey through the Lower and Middle School. When appropriate, they are able to facilitate students on both ends of the skill spectrum, offering support to those who need it and challenging those who would benefit.
The specialist positions were created and instituted in response to emerging research. Math specialists are now recommended by the National Council of Teacher of Mathematicians (NCTM), and the use of science specialists is endorsed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
Mary Beth Hughes will take on the role of Math Specialist, in addition to her role as 5th Grade home room teacher and math teacher. Mrs. Hughes has 19 years of teaching experience, including the past four at Walsingham Academy. She served as a Middle School Math Teacher for six years at Jefferson Middle School (Albuquerque, NM) and Blocker Middle School (Texas City, TX). She holds a Master's in Elementary Education with an emphasis in teaching math, science, and technology to middle school students, and has recently served as head of Walsingham's Lower School STEM Club.
Kim Ward joins Walsingham as its Science Specialist. Mrs. Ward brings 17 years of teaching experience, including 10 as a Middle School Science Teacher at Peasley Middle School (Gloucester, VA). She holds a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech, and is certified to teach biology by the State of Virginia.
In addition to supporting and enriching science instruction at all grade levels, Ward will make greater use of the Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle Learning Garden. Located between the cafeteria and the preschool, the garden offers a 25,000 square foot space for learning about sustainable ecosystems, and offers a variety of opportunities for hands-on learning. The use of the Lower School Science Lab will be increased, as Mrs. Ward works collaboratively in all grade levels.
"Our expanded specialist program puts Walsingham on the cutting edge of industry standards and allows us to better respond to the needs of students," said Lower School Director Mary Johnston. "Specialists oversee curricular journeys, connect teachers with research-based content support, and ensure a rich and thorough progression for students through content."
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