AFCEA Educational Foundation: In A Scholarship Winner's Own Words
From time to time, the AFCEA Educational Foundation receives wonderful thank-you letters from recipients of the many AFCEA scholarship programs. Here is an open letter from Jeremy Jonas, a biology and biotechnology teacher at Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona. His letter, printed below, best expresses the value in the foundation’s effort to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teacher programs throughout the United States.
When I made the decision to become a certified science educator, I was fueled by a passion to serve my community by increasing scientific literacy in youth. As anyone who has stepped into a Title I public high school classroom knows, however, passion alone will only take a classroom full of students hungry for knowledge so far. In the sciences, it is absolutely essential to have the scientific equipment necessary for students to engage with the natural world, question and think critically, and pursue the scientific method by performing authentic scientific investigations.
Many teachers new to the classroom quickly discover either an entirely empty room or a room littered with abandoned and outdated materials from teachers past. After completing a Master of Education in science at the University of Arizona, I entered into a public science classroom in the latter state. I spent the first three weeks of school cleaning out the ghosts of teachers past in the evenings, desperately trying to establish an organized, engaging and well-equipped science classroom.
Fortunately, I was the recipient of AFCEA’s generous STEM Teacher Scholarship award, which not only helped pay for my master’s tuition but also went on to grant my classroom $1,000 per year toward science materials and teaching tools. For the past two years, these funds have been critical for allowing me to purchase scientific instruments and supplies such as microscopes, digital balances, chemical supplies and countless other materials for laboratories. I believe to best understand science, one must do science, and without these funds my students’ experiences would have been very limited in the classroom I first walked into two years ago.
I am forever grateful to AFCEA for their generous and critical support for young scientists and teachers wanting to serve their community and increase public understanding of science and technology. Your help has opened many doors.
Tucson High Magnet School Teacher of Biotechnology and Biology