CMS teacher awarded Outstanding Science AwardPublished 5:12pm Monday, December 24, 2012
CHOCOWINITY – Crystal Williams did not plan to work in a middle school classroom. She worked at the Imagination Station in Wilson and said she wanted to continue her career in informal education.
Williams’ interests in informal education contributed to her earning the District 1 Outstanding Science Award for middle school science at the North Carolina Science Teacher’s Association’s 43rd annual Professional Development Institute. NCSTA’s District 1 covers Beaufort, Bertie Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrell and Washington counties.
According to the NCSTA, “District Outstanding Science Teacher Awards recognize excellence in science teaching by North Carolina teachers who exemplify excellence, creativity, and innovative teaching plans and ideas for the improvement of science instruction and stimulation of interest in science while fostering student, school and school-community instruction programs in science.”
Williams introduced two programs at CMS, both with the goal of stimulating an interest in science. She formed a Science Olympiad team four years ago as a second-year teacher. It got off to a rocky start. After suspending efforts for a year and enlisting the help of other teachers, the CMS Science Olympiad came back with a vengeance.
They went from having to actively recruit a team the first year to requiring tryouts to form two teams of 18. Sixty students tried out this year. The team is one of the few extracurricular things sixth-grade students can do.
“In our first year, Team 2 was only two points from going to state,” Williams said.
The teams will compete in regionals Jan. 26 at East Carolina University.
Williams also started an environment program, Envirothon. Her undergraduate degree is in biology and she considers environmental and life sciences as her first loves. Williams enjoys the environment program and the Science Olympiad because the programs let her introduce science projects that fall outside the normal curriculum.
“I just have a passion for that because of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program,” she said.
Williams loves seeing students excited about science. She said she sets out to make every student like science.
She realized she was making an impression when students returned for a semester and requested to see a video on the path of blood again.
“It amazes me the impact that you have. You don’t think that they are paying attention, but they actually do,” Williams said.
Her advice to newer teachers is to do a lot of phone calls to parents to keep them updated on student progress. Williams tries to call parents with good news as well as the bad.
Williams said she did not expect to be recognized for her work at CMS where she is among so many great teachers.
“I felt so blessed because I’m so new and young as far as teaching goes,” she said. “This is so humbling.”