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Bossier teacher heads overseas

Courtesy Photo | Spencer Kiper, STEM teacher at Elm Grove Middle School, has been chosen as a 2019 Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist.
By Stacey Tinsley, newsroom@bossierpress.com

A Bossier Parish educator recently spent a week overseas teaching other educators how to implement STEM in their classrooms.

Elm Grove Middle School STEM teacher and 2019 Louisiana Teacher of the Year Spencer Kiper was in Dubai as a part of the STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) training initiative with the Ministry of Education of the United Arab Emirates.

Through an opportunity with STEM Revolution, Spencer, who has never been out of the country before, worked with the Ministry of Education for the UAE and a team of teachers from other states and countries to help with the country’s priority of implementing STREAM.

“It made me realize that making progress and creating innovation solutions to educational issues is something that extends much further than the classrooms in our school or in our district. Our expertise can be applied to make an impact on students around the world,” Kiper said.

Spencer worked to provide professional development for Emirati teachers to build their awareness and practice in STREAM education, and shared best practices from my own experience in the classroom.

“The biggest lesson that I learned from my time in Dubai is that kids are kids, regardless of where they are from and their individual culture. Emirati teachers many of the same challenges that U.S. teachers face,” said Kiper.

While in Dubai, Spencer shared what his Bossier Parish STEM students are learning and projects they have accomplished thus far in hopes of inspiring the other teachers of future projects for their own students.

“What the teachers loved most about what I shared with them were the pictures of projects, trips, and activities of our children participating in STEM learning opportunities,” Kiper shared. “I showed them pictures of the custom-built video game arcade machines for the NWLA STEM on Screen Film Festival, and they were so impressed by the level of detail and effort that our students were putting into projects.”

Since returning home, Spencer’s immediate goals are to connect his students with his experiences, and answer all of the questions they might have about the culture and his overall experience.

But his long term goal is to provide support with the Emirati teachers that he meet on his trip.

“Long term, I’m going to look to provide additional support and make deeper connections with the Emirati teachers that I met on my trip, and share more best practices with them,” Spencer said.

“I can’t wait to see what projects are inspired by what the teachers learned.”

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.