This year, we’ve highlighted some of the 2018 Nevada STEM Teachers of the Year: Denise, Alyse, Melissa, and Leigh. Another of these educators is Teri Mann from Staton Elementary in Las Vegas. Teri has been an active member of the STEM community for a number of years and is working to expand STEM education for students in her community.
“Teri Mann has been with the Clark County School District for the past  years. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Gifted Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Teri currently serves as the Gifted and Talented Education Specialist at Ethel W. Staton Elementary School. Additionally, Teri is the current Chairperson of the School Organizational Team for Staton. She has developed Green Box lesson plans for the Desert Research Institute Science Alive Program. Also, as a part time trainer for the Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program, Teri provides training to other teachers on the effective implementation of science instruction in the classroom. She has sat on the Nevada Computer Standards Writing Committee and has been a presenter for the Southern Nevada Science Teachers Association and the National Science Teachers Association at their national conference.” - OSIT
When speaking with Teri, it is obvious that science is her passion, and she’ll tell you that she may have gone into engineering had she connected with mentors and had more engineering experiences during her K-12 education. As an educator, her passion for science and teaching inspires her to show students their STEM potential. Teri understands that repeated exposure to a variety of STEM fields will spark passion in her students. For example, Teri does a renewable energy unit with her fourth grade students. The students learn about renewable energy in Nevada and create projects to educate the community at Staton’s STEAM Fair. The students write letters to Nevada legislators in order to convince them to invest in renewable energy for Nevada’s future. Another project Teri completed was with her second grade students. They learned about pollination by focusing on bees and current issues such as colony collapse and environmental engineering. During the unit the students decided to help their school garden attract pollinators. They did this by selling hand-made recycled products to raise money. They used that money to purchase plants and trees for the garden in order to attract pollinators. Additionally, Teri gave her third grade students the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by creating a business and learning about finance and the necessary skills to run a business. Her students were able to make sellable products and then find out if they had what it took to be a responsible business owner. Teri believes that it is important to give her students project based learning opportunities whenever she can in order for them to be able to make a difference in our community and beyond. Through these experiences, Teri is setting her students on STEM pathways they may not have otherwise found.
Teri also served on the Nevada Computer Standards Writing Committee. Nevada is one of the first to adopt formal computer science standards, thanks to the dedicated team of educators who developed those standards over the course of 18 months. Teri notes that, “many people see computers as a tool, but [she] sees it as an opportunity.” She goes on to say that computers shouldn’t just be used for typing, but as an opportunity to give students a voice. Students should learn how computers work, how to use computers and the internet safely, and how to code and create. Teri is proud to advocate for elementary students in the computer science field, and Nevada is lucky to have her. The elementary standards prepare students for more complex work with computers by focusing on patterns, cause and effect, and basic hardware, software, and coding principles.
Teri Mann works with Gifted and Talented students at her school to provide them with real-world STEM experiences. Since receiving the STEM Teacher of the Year Award, Teri has begun working with her school’s STEM Leaders team to transition into a co-teaching model. Teri will work with each teacher at her school, co-planning and co-teaching, to bring quality STEM experiences to all students at Staton. Teri’s experience presenting at conferences, such as the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference, and training teachers with the Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP) have prepared her for this opportunity. She'll also use her STEM Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by Tech Queen, to stock the school's science lab for all teachers to use. Teri’s next step is to help her school apply for the Governor’s STEM School Designation to show the community all of the great work around STEM that Staton Elementary has accomplished.
Follow Teri on Twitter as she expands STEM education across Nevada @GateNerd!