July 7, 2015
(Photos: Christopher Bock/ Center for Inspired Teaching)
On July 7, 2014-2015 SCALE Teacher Leader Eileen Pascucci was awarded Teacher of the Year by the Nation’s Capital Chapter of the Air Force Association. Ms. Pascucci was chosen among a highly competitive pool of applicants for her accomplishments in “exciting students about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and preparing them to use and contribute to tomorrow’s technologies.”
The presentation took place at the Inspired Teaching Institute for SCALE and BLISS, programs run in partnership with DC Public Schools (DCPS) that are designed to shift instruction citywide in social studies and science. As a Teacher Leader in SCALE: Science Curriculum Advancement through Literacy Enhancement, Ms. Pascucci developed her practice in inquiry-based instruction, wrote standards-aligned curricula for use district-wide, and facilitated professional development for her peers, all while fueling her students’ fascination with STEM topics and building their skills as scientists.
She was nominated for this award by Inspired Teaching staff due to her strong grasp of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and her ability to implement powerful, engaging, and rigorous science lessons in her high school class at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. In one memorable lesson, Ms. Pascucci taught her students about hypertonic and hypotonic solutions and osmosis by facilitating student-led experiments with gummy bears.
Lieutenant Colonel Darryl L. Terrell, Jr., presented the award to Ms. Pascucci on behalf of the Air Force Association. Acknowledging the citywide impact of SCALE, he stated that Ms. Pascucci’s application stood above the rest because it was clear she is truly “at the cutting edge” of STEM instruction.
Brian Pick, Chief of Teaching and Learning for DC Public Schools, echoed Lt. Col. Terrell’s remarks in his congratulations to Ms. Pascucci, on behalf of the Chancellor and all of DCPS. He spoke about how Ms. Pascucci and her fellow SCALE and BLISS Teacher Leaders are helping DCPS lead the nation in the excellent implementation of state standards in social studies and science. He credited the Teacher Leaders for their “important intellectual engagement on what students should learn,” and for their efforts to strengthen their practice and lead their peers as outstanding inquiry-based teachers.
Ms. Pascucci was presented with a Certificate of Excellence, an Air Force Association Teacher of the Year jacket, and a $1,000 check, as well as the opportunity to compete at the national level for the AFA National Aerospace Teacher of the Year Award. Upon receiving the award, she thanked Lt. Col. Terrell and Mr. Pick for recognizing the sustained effort it has taken to revamp the curriculum to include more inquiry-based and student-centered activities – and for appreciating the lasting impact this will have.
She then addressed the next cohort of SCALE and BLISS Teacher Leaders, advising them to take advantage of the continual in-class coaching and support by Inspired Teaching staff. SCALE, she said, pushed her to try new things, even when it was hard – and it has paid off immensely, for her, her students, and her peers citywide.
Center for Inspired Teaching’s Aleta Margolis expressed her pride not only for Ms. Pascucci, but for all of the Teacher Leaders and their exceptional efforts to transform instruction citywide. She concluded the presentation saying, “We are excited to continue the work of SCALE and BLISS with this upcoming cohort of Teacher Leaders, who, like Eileen, will challenge themselves and their peers to become Instigators of Thought® for students all across DC.”