Today, Chapel Hill Elementary School teacher Aisha Chadwick got a surprise delivery after it was announced that she was one of 10 national recipients of the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award!
The recognition is presented annually to 10 dynamic teachers across the nation who promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom to encourage students to pursue careers in computer science and robotics.
Chadwick, a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) lab teacher, received a $5,000 cash award, and Chapel Hill Elementary was awarded $25,000 for the school to further STEM education.
“I’m honored to receive this recognition from Amazon and grateful for the support from my school in helping us create new opportunities for students and nurture the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) leaders,” said Chadwick.
“Many of my students feel that computer science is not an option for them, but I have seen computer science bring tremendous creativity and passion in students once they’re given a chance. I’m looking forward to enhancing the programming I can offer to girls at my school—showing them that coding can be an exciting and viable option for all genders—and investing in more robotics that are kindergarten and pre-K friendly for my younger students.”
Through the Amazon Future Engineer program, the company is funding computer science curriculum and teacher professional development for 30 elementary schools in DCSD, impacting more than 10,000 students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech. DCSD is part of Amazon Future Engineer’s expansion to more than 6,000 schools, 1,000 of which are elementary schools.
Amazon is working with BootUp Professional Development, a nonprofit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education, to bring computer science to 500,000 elementary students by 2025. Teachers like Chadwick make that effort possible. She lives the school’s motto of “STEMulating future engineer careers” and introduced the first age-appropriate computer science and coding curriculum to her school for younger learners.
Chadwick is the co-sponsor of Chapel Hill’s Innovative Designers Club, which teaches older students the engineering design process and helps them prepare for the district’s technology fair. Working with students as young as five years old, Chadwick teaches students how to use programs such as Scratch and ScratchJr to make animated pictures and videos, and she has designed gamification projects to make learning how to code fun for kids of all ages. She also sponsors Chapel Hill’s Girl CODE, which encourages girls to learn how to code and be game designers. Chadwick’s school community said that her innovative strategies and techniques “saved the day during the pandemic.” Her leadership helped grow virtual engagement and technology skills during remote learning.
Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year recipients are chosen based on various criteria, including a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator, and compelling, personal anecdotes about their school and students. Scholarship America reviewed the applications and selected the ten award recipients. Of this year’s cohort, 40 percent of recipients identify as Black, Latino, or Native American, and 60 percent identify as women.
Along with the monetary award, Chadwick is invited to join the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher Advisory Council, where she will receive professional development opportunities, connect with like-minded computer science educators, and advise on current and upcoming Amazon Future Engineer initiatives. She can also attend MARS (machine learning, automation, robotics, and space), an Amazon event that brings together the brightest leaders in science, academia, and business to explore how applications of machine learning, automation, robotics, and space domains will shape the future. The event will take place on June 21–24 at the ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The full media release from Amazon announcing the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients can be found here: