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Alcester-Hudson's Story honored as charter member of prestigious National STEM Scholar program

By June 2022, Story and her fellow STEM Scholars will have impacted an estimated 66,000 middle school students in the U.S.

Alcester-Hudson High School
An aerial view the Alcester-Hudson School District campus in Alcester, South Dakota.
Photo courtesy of Todd Nelson

ALCESTER, S.D. — An Alcester-Hudson teacher was recognized this week as a charter member of a prestigious professional development program designed specifically for STEM teachers.

Marie Story, a fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade science and social studies teacher at Alcester-Hudson, was celebrated alongside other STEM teachers from across the United States for their innovative classroom implementation of concepts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In 2016, Story was a part of the first class of only 10 teachers selected nationwide for participation in the National STEM Scholars program — an ongoing program to expand the way middle school teachers introduce STEM concepts to their students.

Created in partnership between the National Stem Cell Foundation and Western Kentucky University, the National STEM Scholar Program selects ten teachers each year from a national pool of applicants based solely on the description of a “big idea” Challenge Project the applicant would implement if funds were available.

Each of the 10 teachers was provided with funding to implement their Challenge Project in their classrooms and was provided with a Chromebook to encourage ongoing collaboration with other STEM Scholars. They were also sponsored by the program to attend the National Science Teaching Association's National Conference the following spring.

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Marie Story
Marie Story, Alcester-Hudson School District

“Educators like Marie make a difference in the academic choices students make that will open or close the door to STEM careers," said Dr. Paula Grisanti, CEO of the National Stem Cell Foundation, which oversees the National STEM Scholars program. "We believe our investment in teachers who inspire and motivate middle school students at this critical decision-making age will directly impact the development of a new generation of scientists in academic research, advanced technology and infrastructure engineering.”

Grisanti said students who begin to learn about STEM subjects in middle school are more likely to take an interest in them in high school and even more likely to choose a major in a STEM field in college.

Now six years down the road, Story was invited to attend the National STEM Scholar Program's first scholar reunion from March 30 to April 3 in Houston.

While there, Story will meet up with her 2016 class of scholars as well as other more-recently inducted scholars from middle schools across the country. Instructors from around the globe will also be in attendance, giving Story an opportunity to discover and implement new concepts into her classroom in Alcester.

At the reunion, Story will be presented with a National STEM Scholar Charter Member certificate and invited to film a description of her Challenge Project for inclusion in the digital STEM Scholar Library — a new online digital resource available free of charge for teachers, students and parents in virtual and traditional classrooms worldwide.

Soon entering its seventh year, there are 60 National STEM Scholars representing middle schools in 29 states, with another 10 Scholars to be announced later this spring. Of those scholars, 93% teach in public schools, 43% teach in mid- to high-poverty schools while 41% teach in communities with a population under 15,000.

A unique requirement of the program is the responsibility for STEM Scholars to share lessons learned with colleagues in their home schools, districts or states, magnifying impact over multiple classrooms and years.

By June 2022, STEM Scholars will have directly and indirectly impacted an estimated 66,000 middle school students in the U.S.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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