By Katrina England
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Melissa Tobin, STEAM Teacher at Caverna Elementary School was recently recognized as Impact Teacher of the Year through KySTE (the Kentucky Society for Technology in Education).
Impact Teacher awards recognize and honor one leader and one teacher who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in implementing technology to improve education.
Tobin, who graduated from Caverna in 2006, has worked for Caverna Elementary for 10 years, spending 2 years as an instructional assistant, and 5 years teaching ELA and Science, in 5th grade before moving on to teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) in kindergarten through 5th grades.
STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.
“I think that exposing students to different forms of technology teaches them 21st century skills that they will one day use in the future,” said Tobin. “It also allows students to have the opportunity to explore the basic building blocks of what could one day be part of their career. Without being exposed to different types of technology, like coding, for example, children will never know if that is something that they want to pursue as a career. I feel that overall, it empowers learners in a technologically connected world.”
Tobin had no idea she had been nominated, so the award came as a complete surprise.
“Being named the KySTE Impact Teacher of the Year is an honor and is proof to myself that I am making a difference,” said Tobin. “It is really nice to know that all of my hard work and dedication to education is positively impacting the lives of my students and colleagues. Honestly, it has encouraged me to work even harder. The one thing that I hope students think about first when they look back at the time they spent in my classroom, is that I didn’t just care about them academically, I cared about their emotional needs as well, inside and outside of the classroom. I want students to learn as much as they can but I also want them to know that they are loved.”
Tobin hopes that by incorporating technology often, she can improve the quality of instruction and student experiences in her classroom. Her students use Block Coding, take Virtual Field Trips with Google Expedition Kits, and create 3D models online to print with the classroom 3D printer. Her students in STLP also work on digital art, models using Minecraft Edu, and Robotics.
“I hope that they’ve seen how much effort I put in every day and that it makes them want to do the same thing in their future. I want them to be hardworking individuals no matter what trade or profession they choose to pursue.”
Tobin also serves as the STLP Coordinator, as well as the Digital Learning Coach. With her passion for technology, she is more than happy to share her knowledge with others.
“Not only do I get to work with students in my classroom, I am also there to provide my colleagues with any support that they need when implementing technology in their classrooms,” said Tobin. “I love to share new programs to help deliver content in other classrooms, too.”