Samsung Teacher Academy Explores New Era of Classroom Learning
Last week, Samsung Solve for Tomorrow (SFT) hosted its fourth annual Teacher Academy. The week long program is designed to empower educators to inspire their students and tackle real world problems, while exploring new ways of using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and problem-based learning. For the first time since the Academy’s launch in 2019, 35 teachers from across the country gathered together in-person for an immersive professional development experience building on Solve for Tomorrow’s focus on STEM, problem-based learning and various environmental issues.
Samsung Solve for Tomorrow is an annual national competition for public schools grades 6-12 that challenges students to work together to create positive change in their communities using STEM. From start to finish, these brilliant young minds are empowered and supported by teachers as they take the lead to push the boundaries of innovation.
Olivia Rowland, Math Teacher at Republic Middle School in Missouri and SFT State Winner, explained the impact that Solve for Tomorrow had on her students, “I teach in a rural school, so my students did not see how they could influence the rest of the world. They really poured themselves into this project, staying after school, coming in early and working during the day to finish it. To see that I cared about their ideas and that other people really cared about their ideas made it clear that they could make those differences and that they were really capable of it.”
Each Academy teacher involved in the program is an SFT winning alumni and has won their share of over $2 million in technology and classroom materials for their respective schools, in addition to gaining hands-on experience with problem based learning and mindSpark Learning professional development tools. Participants in the program were also awarded continuing education credits (CECs), a measure used to maintain up-to-date license and certifications in the field.
“It’s always such an incredible experience to see how these teachers are inspiring the next generation of change makers,” said Michele Mosa, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “The Teacher Academy is designed to provide its participants with an opportunity to recharge, while building critical skills and learning how to better empathize with their students. With 35 teachers taking part in this year’s program, the Academy creates a strong support system of likeminded individuals with unique experiences that will carry forward for years to come.”
The week kicked off on Monday morning with a trip to Project Farmhouse, the state-of-the-art sustainability center and event space in New York City. Here, the teachers packed seeds for urban and school gardens, while learning about GrowNYC’s mission to be a sustainable resource for New Yorkers and improve their community. With this year’s focus on improving food access and security, teachers were given the task of working in small groups to create a STEM-based, sustainable solution to be presented to a panel of Samsung employees and Academy teacher graduates the following day.
“Being empowered by a corporate company, such as Samsung, that is using their resources to make our lives better has just been great,” explained Jessica Abrams, STEM Teacher at Liberty Avenue Middle School in New York and SFT National Finalist. “We came here, we were welcomed, appreciated and actually put in a task that mimics what the students do at school. It gave us a first-hand experience of the entire project so that we could be better open facilitators when we get back to our respective schools.”