Brandie Freeman continues to pile up the teaching awards.
One of the Woodland High science teacher’s most recent victories is the 2016 PASCO STEM Educator Award from the National Science Teachers Association, which netted her $5,000 in PASCO scientific lab equipment for her school, a check for $500 and $1,000 in expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference. “Each time I receive a grant or award, I am humbled by the multitude of amazing fellow educators locally and abroad whose work goes largely unnoticed by the general public,” Freeman, 32, said. “I am also excited about giving my students richer classroom opportunities through new materials and training.”The Hiram resident, who is teaching AP chemistry, AP environmental science and honors chemistry this semester, will receive her award at the Conference Awards Gala Friday, April 1, during the NSTA National Conference in Nashville. She also will be presenting at the conference’s STEM Share-a-Thon about the integration of technology into her classroom lessons.Freeman said she received a phone call from NSTA in early January, about six weeks after submitting her proposal, notifying her that she was one of three winners — one middle school, two high school — selected from a large group of STEM teacher applicants from across the country.“When I got the call from NSTA to notify me that I had been chosen, I was extremely surprised,” she said. “The pool of applicants on a national level is intimidating, and I am very grateful I was chosen. The recognition is appreciated and humbling.”NSTA receives about 1,200 applications each year for the 20 different grants and recognitions it awards annually, according to Freeman.“The odds of winning were small, but I knew God was calling me to apply, so I submitted my proposal,” she said. “The past six years, I have methodically submitted and been awarded 12 smaller grant proposals valued around $500 to $1,000 each. They have been helpful in meeting our technology and instructional needs, but I knew that $5,000 in one lump sum would allow me to purchase larger class sets of more expensive equipment for my chemistry lab.” Freeman, who thanked her administrators, Principal Dr. Melissa Williams and Assistant Principal Lori Scifers, for “allowing me to take on the challenge of teaching AP chemistry this year,” said she is using the grant money to buy advanced chemistry equipment: a spectrometer, class sets of colorimeters, conductivity meters and volumetric drip counters and calorimetry equipment.The new equipment — which will give her classes the ability to collect real-time pH, temperature and pressure readings during investigations — is being processed and should be delivered by the end of the month.“PASCO, the probeware and scientific supply company who sponsored this award, immediately contacted me after I was notified to help expedite the ordering process,” she added. Williams called Freeman “an extremely talented instructor who is constantly looking for new innovations and approaches to instruction.”“She strives to spark her students’ imagination and curiosity about the world around them through the incorporation of technology and hands-on experiments,” Williams said. “She creates an active learning environment where students feel safe in taking academic risks. I only wish I had had a science teacher like Brandie when I was in high school. Her classroom is very student-centered and includes relevant lab activities.“Most importantly, she builds relationships with her students, encouraging them to care — about themselves, their peers and the world around them. Brandie is one of the most dedicated teachers here at Woodland who truly has a heart for her students and goes out of her way to make sure that they are successful.”Freeman added the award to the growing list of achievements she’s accumulated during her 10-year teaching career: Georgia Science Teachers Association 2015 Georgia High School Science Teacher of the Year; Bartow County 2014 District Teacher of the Year; Woodland High School 2014 Teacher of the Year; National Society of High School Scholars AP Grant Award Winner; Dorothy Stout Award, National Geoscience Teachers Association; Sol Hirsch Award, National Weather Association; Holly Camp Miller Award, Georgia Geological Society; 2014 GSTA Science Quest Teacher Award and Mini-Grant Awardee; and Bartow Education Foundation Grants from 2010 to 2016.“I would like to encourage other teachers to join teaching organizations like the Georgia Science Teachers Association or the NSTA and have the courage to apply for grants and awards,” she said. “Exposure to new ideas will keep you fresh and enthusiastic in the classroom, and the challenge will help you grow personally and professionally.” PASCO award applicants must be a middle school or high school science, technology, engineering and mathematics educator with a minimum of three years of teaching experience in the STEM fields.To apply for the grant, Freeman had to submit a narrative describing how she teaches STEM in the classroom, examples of student products exhibiting real-world application that she collected over the past year, three letters of support and a resume.