Washington, D.C., September 23, 2008 - Mr. Kirk Beckendorf, an eighth grade science teacher from Blanco Middle School in Blanco, Texas, is one of fifteen teachers selected from a nationwide pool of applicants to receive a 2008-2009 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship. This prestigious program offers elementary and secondary science, technology, and math teachers with a demonstrated excellence in teaching an opportunity to serve in the national education or public policy arena. Mr. Beckendorf will serve his fellowship in the education office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Headquarters in downtown Washington, DC.
According to Mr. Beckendorf, “I actively seek out professional development opportunities. As an Einstein Fellow, I will miss being in the classroom with my students, but I will be involved in science education in a completely different capacity. The Fellowship will provide me the exciting and professionally rewarding opportunity to spend the next year working within NOAA’s Office of Education. I am particularly excited about working with top science education leaders from Washington, DC and from around the country. I will be able to bring my perspective “from the trenches” to the table.”
Mr. Beckendorf taught middle school science, grades 6-8, for the past 17 years in both Oregon and Texas. During that time he helped to develop teams of students who competed in state robotics and Science Olympiad contests. He has taken students on trips outside of the classroom for the purpose of geocaching, studying stream ecology, as well as to study stars. Along with his colleagues, he helped convert 18,000 square feet of campus sod into a native plant garden.
Diligent in his efforts to bring real science into the classroom, Mr. Beckendorf has participated in a number of research experiences for teachers. These experiences have allowed him to work directly on research projects with forest fire ecologists in the Pacific Northwest, atmospheric chemists and physicists onboard a NOAA research vessel off the coast of New England, biological and physical oceanographers in the Arctic Ocean and with meteorologists in Antarctica.
Prior to become an educator, Mr. Beckendorf drove stagecoaches in Yellowstone, guided whitewater raft trips in Alaska, spent a winter trapping in the Alaska Range and worked on ranches and dairy farms.
Mr. Beckendorf earned both his Bachelor’s degree in agronomy and his secondary science certification from Texas A&M. Since beginning his teaching career, Mr. Beckendorf has had lessons, articles and photographs published in Science Scope, the National Science Teachers Association middle school science journal.
For more information on the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program, visit www.trianglecoalition.org/ein.htm
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program was authorized by an act of Congress in 1994. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and is coordinated by Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education. Selected teachers spend a school year in the Washington, DC metro area, serving in a Congressional Office or a Federal agency. Fellows provide practical insights and “real world” perspectives to policy makers and program managers developing or managing education programs. The fellowships increase understanding, communication, and cooperation between the science, technology, and mathematics education community and legislative and executive branches of the Federal government.