Teachers Win 2022 TI Foundation STEM Awards

Three DeSoto ISD Teachers Received Texas Instruments Foundation Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards
Posted on 06/20/2022
TI Foundation Award Recipients 2022

DeSoto ISD is committed to helping its students make real-world connections through learning and we applaud our teachers who live that commitment. Congratulations to Ashley Simpson of DeSoto West Middle School and co-recipients Christina Falcon and Gary Roe of Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy (KJTMA) who recently received the 2022 Texas Instruments Foundation Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards. Each recipient received a $10,000 cash prize, of which $5,000 is for the individual winner and the remaining $5,000 is for STEM-related professional development, technology,  or campus classroom materials.

KJTMA educators, Roe and Falcon, partnered on their grant submission, “The Fresh Prince of Stale Air,” to obtain funding for materials to help students learn by creating air-purifying ventilation box prototypes. Students will use the STEM learning concepts of engineering and technology to build prototypes, and math and science to measure and calculate the effectiveness versus other areas of the campus.

It is an honor to receive this award from a renowned leader in education technology and resources. It means so much that they believe in our students and their capacity to innovate and create,” Falcon said. “It is encouraging to have the financial means to provide students with supplies to test their STEM designs. It is a privilege that we will not take for granted, and are excited to bring the engineering element of STEM to Katherine Johnson.”

Mr. Roe, the campus technologist and an experienced science instructor who envisioned this interdisciplinary learning experience, was excited to receive funding from the TI Foundation to help students expand this lesson beyond the classroom and campus walls.

“The students will be able to have something tangible in their hand to deploy and see the impact it will have,” shared Roe whose hope is that students from all grade levels, classrooms, and even other area facilities would be able to benefit from this STEM experience. “It is about taking care of your community and making people healthier.” 

DeSoto West Middle School seventh-grade mathematics educator Ashley Simpson applied for the grant to implement the goal of making learning more interactive and relevant for her students. Simpson’s grant is  Project Lego House and allows students to create a blueprint using math and technology and build out scale models using legos. 

“I like to work hands-on with my students and I was trying to figure out how to do it in an instructional day. The grant made this idea possible,” she said, explaining that lessons such as these answer the “why” questions students ask. “Building a lego house will emphasize the geometry and algebra aspect of what the students have learned and enable them to apply their learning to the real world.”

Simpson, who left a corporate accounting career in 2019 to begin her educational career,  is passionate about helping students learn and grow to their highest levels. She plans to use the additional funds to get more resources for her students and obtain tools to continue perfecting her instructional delivery.

“I have always been good at math. Through tutoring my cousins, I gained a desire to ensure that children in my community are good at math,” Simpson explained. “I feel that if students are good at math, it increases their confidence which is important because math is a gateway to many other career fields.”

Like Simpson, Roe and Falcon understand that students learn differently and need to interact with the instructional content and understand its real-world application. In their classrooms, they are working to help students excel in these often challenging areas of learning and make an impact in the world. 

The grant award is helping these DeSoto ISD educators fulfill their mission of realizing the District’s vision to inspire curiosity and consciousness, develop character, build courage, and nurture compassion in every student.

The goal of the Texas Instruments Foundation Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards grant program is to honor teachers who are enhancing student achievement and increasing interest in STEM areas.

In addition to the district educators receiving these grants, DeSoto ISD received a 1.4 million dollar grant from Educate Texas, an initiative of the Communities Foundation of Texas funded by Texas Instruments to increase its STEM curriculum in 2021.