A Williamsville science teacher has been named as a national 2017 STEM Teacher Ambassador. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the middle school teacher is one of ten math and science teachers selected nationwide.
"It's important that teachers are at the table - that as teachers our opinions are heard,” said Kenneth Huff, science teacher at Mill Middle School in Williamsville.
The National Science Teachers Association and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics selected Huff to serve as a STEM Teacher Ambassador. This program empowers the ambassadors to communicate what's happening in their classrooms to stakeholders.
"That we involved in decision making and policy making because we bring a perspective of the children. We need to be engaged in the decision making,” Huff explained. “Teachers in many regards have the most convincing voices in education issues that are of interest to the public because we are on our feet with students every day.”
The Executive director of the National Science Teachers Associations, Dr. David Evans, noted that many policies and practices shaping STEM learning for students in K-through 12 have resulted in "little or no input" from classroom teachers.
“Throughout the year, the STEM Teacher Ambassadors will be taking on additional responsibilities and leadership positions which will create new roles and a greater voice for teachers and for STEM education,” said Evans.
Huff tells WBFO News he is on the 'front-lines' of how children are learning science.
“No more than ever our children need to be able to think critically and flexibly because we live in such a rapidly changing world where we have no idea of what the challenges in technology lie ahead, so that we are all working together to improve science education and not working across these purposes, but as a unified team. So that we can make the pedagogical innovations necessary in our classrooms,” Huff explained.
Huff is the only teacher from New York State selected to serve as a STEM ambassador.
Huff began teaching science in a classroom in 1993. He also serves on the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) science in education steering committee and leads the Young Astronaut Council for students in grades 5-8 at Mill Middle.
Huff is also attending the National Congress on Science Education conference that is being held in Buffalo this week at the downtown Hyatt.
“We are talking about issues that pertain to science education, focusing on issues surrounding on leadership surrounding science education and implementation of science standards,” Huff remarked.
The New York State Board of Regents passed a new set of science standards in December of 2016. The implementation of those standards for science teachers across of the state began July 1st.
“We are talking about implementation of the new standards, but not just in New York State, because we have science teachers from all across the United States gathered here and we are discussing research based strategies as well," Huff noted.