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Alabama AEM Emily Gregory

Posted on May 18, 2022 at 4:53 PM by Virginia Smith

Teacher Emily Gregory works with her students with the Bee-Bot Coding STEM kit. The Bee-Bot Robot is on the activity mat

Teacher Emily Gregory of Alabama has been a gifted specialist for 22 years.

May 16, 2022

Meet Emily Gregory, gifted specialist at Pine Level Elementary School in rural Autauga County, Alabama. She realized right before she graduated with an undergraduate business degree that her heart was really with working with children. Since that decision, she has been a gifted specialist for 22 years, working with grades 2-6 in different systems. She became a CAP AEM two years ago in order to help her students gain exposure to STEM/STEAM materials. "I was on the STEAM committee at my school, and we decided that the resources that are offered were a great resource for all of the students at Pine Level Elementary School," she says. "As a committee, we all joined CAP. I lead and organize the yearly sign-ups and materials when they are delivered to the school." This year, she organized a project in which her gifted students learned how to use CAP's Bee-Bot & Code & Go Mouse STEM Kit and then taught other students and their teachers how to use the program. "The collaboration between the students teaching and the students learning was phenomenal," she says. "They were learning from each other and completely engaged." We asked her some questions about her teaching career and her involvement with CAP, and her answers follow.

Tell us about your current school. What grades do you teach?

I teach at Pine Level Elementary. Pine Level Elementary is a Title I, Leader in Me, pre K- through 5th-grade school located in Autauga County, Alabama. The population of the school is over 900 students. I am the gifted specialist that teaches a pullout program for grades 3-5 at my school. I also serve 6th grade students at our feeder school, Marbury Middle.

Please tell us why you became an educator. What keeps you in the field? 

I am an Alabama native who received my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Troy State University. During my last quarter of school, I realized after years of babysitting, substituting, and teaching at a local Mother’s Day Out during college, that my heart was not in business but with working with children. I immediately enrolled in the Master’s education program upon graduation.

After my internship, I was hired as a gifted specialist and immediately began certification at the University of Alabama. I have taught 22 years as a gifted specialist, working with grades 2-6 in three different school systems. I am constantly seeking new strategies that will improve my effectiveness as an educator, which leads to my students being more and growing as students. I continue to pursue professional development opportunities to enable my students to develop the skills necessary to succeed academically and personally.

Currently, I am the gifted education teacher at Pine Level Elementary School in Autauga County. I have served as a resource teacher and as a workshop presenter for various topics. I am dedicated to meeting each student’s individual needs through differentiation of instruction, and I promote differentiation throughout the district. As a leader within my school, I also coordinate the school’s spelling bee and annual school canned food drive. In addition, I serve on the school’s leadership, budget and STEAM committees. 

What is your philosophy of teaching?

Education imparts not only skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, higher order thinking, and creativity, but also behavioral competencies such as perseverance, adaptability and cooperation. Teaching students to examine their mistakes and failures pushes them to a deeper level of understanding, which encourages risk-taking. Risk-taking encourages problem-solving and creativity and learning. One of our school's mottos is “Growth doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently.” This is instilled in our students to encourage working hard consistently even if there are challenges and to be resilient in the face of failure. My message is to keep growing and keep learning from mistakes. If you don’t grow, you will never be your BEST!

Please list awards/honors/achievements you have received as an educator that you would like to include. 

  • Pine Level Elementary Teacher of the Year - 2019-2022

  • “On a positive Note” teacher of the year award by the Autauga County Children’s Policy Council - 2021-2022

  • Professional Development Presenter 

    • Critical Thinking

    • Technology

    • Gifted Education

    • Enriching Your Child (for Parents)

    • Project-based Learning

    • Performance Series

    • Growth Mindset

    • Goal Setting

    • Formative Assessment

    • Socratic Circles

  • Multiple Grant Recipient

    • Autauga County Retired Teachers Association

    • Autauga Education Foundation

    • Central Alabama Electric Cooperative Bright Ideas

    • Milo’s Community

    • Alabama Bicentennial Grant

How many years have you been involved in Civil Air Patrol?

This is my second year involved with the Civil Air Patrol.

Tell us a few details about how you and your students used the Civil Air Patrol Coding STEM Kits, Bee Bots and Code & Go Mouse. What benefits do your students get from the kits?

My gifted students learned the coding materials from the CAP program. Sign up Genius was used for the school's teachers to choose a 30-minute slot for my gifted students in grades 3-5, to come and explain and teach them about coding and how to use the Bee-Bot and Code & Go Mouse. They then went into classrooms to teach other students and their teachers how to use the materials. The collaboration between the students teaching and the students learning was phenomenal. They were learning from each other and completely engaged. Teachers were learning from the students also. It was professional development for teachers and learning for students at the same time. After classes were taught the basics of coding with the Bee-Bot and Code & Go Mouse STEM Kit, materials were placed in the school’s STEAM lab to be used and checked out.

How did you get involved in the Civil Air Patrol AEM program?

Many students do not have the resources to be exposed to STEM/STEAM projects. Money is a limited resource for the materials for the students. Neighborhoods are not available to most students because they live in a rural community. The students do not have others to collaborate with to work on critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and communication. The speech teachers at my school have been using the materials program to work with their students. I was on the STEAM committee at my school, and we decided that the resources that are offered were a great resource for all of the students at Pine Level Elementary School. As a committee, we all joined CAP. I lead and organize the yearly sign ups and materials when they are delivered to the school. 

Why do you teach in the Aerospace Education/STEM area?

Scientists, educators and government experts agree there is a general lack of public understanding of science. Educators and employers are worried that too few Americans have functional literacy in math, science, technology and engineering. Through the STEM movement — the effort to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into the classroom — educators are looking for new and innovative ideas to prepare students for the future. STEM jobs are increasing rapidly, and only a small handful of high-school seniors contemplate a career in STEM fields. Hands-on learning activities increase student engagement, and students will feel empowered when they discover. The Civil Air Patrol’s STEM Kit program provides STEM resources for hands-on and  inquiry-based learning. The materials encourage students to problem-solve, think critically and be creative.

What do you and your students like about Civil Air Patrol programs/materials?

The materials for a STEAM Lab will allow students in our school to have a place to go explore, learn and create projects that align with the curriculum and generate higher level thinking. The Civil Air Patrol materials are in the STEAM lab to be used or checked out so students can use them in their classrooms. The materials we have used so far are:

  • Build and Learn Geometry

  • Bee-Bot and Code and Go Mouse

  • I have applied for the 30 Days Lost in Space kit.

All of the materials are hands-on and have increased student engagement, and they include teaching standards across the curriculum.

What is the best advice you have for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials?

Be organized, and flexible. Students need a variety of experiences and exposure to the materials. I label and put instructions on materials for both children and teachers to use when checking them out.

Please tell an anecdote of a rewarding experience you have had working with students or colleagues using CAP programs:

A rewarding experience has been watching my students learn and teach coding to students throughout Pine Level Elementary. Kindergarten through fifth grades have been exposed and taught the basics of coding. Coding is a huge part of our everyday world that we all use. Understanding the concepts and reasoning behind it helps the students to make connections to real world. I loved watching the students interact and learn from each other about coding. Another reward was having other educators learn what coding is and have the opportunity to be provided professional development on the topic.

Is there anything else that you'd like to say that we did not ask you. We want to tell your story.

Preparing students to think critically and work together is of the utmost importance to me, and I believe the resources from the CAP program can make this happen! The Bee-Bot and Code & Go Mouse are great resources that provide hands-on learning activities to increase student engagement. The students feel empowered when they discover how to code and make connections with coding that they currently use and better understand how things work.   

Emily Gregory's gifted students taught Bee-Bot coding (from CAP's STEM Kit Program) to other students at Pine Level Elementary School.




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