School District educators cited for science efforts
Alison Churm won an award last week for her contributions to science education as the Belvedere Elementary School principal.
On Monday, she said her teachers deserve the credit for the award from the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center – the Robert L. Alexander Outstanding K-12 Administrator of the Year.
When she took the principal’s role in 2009, “It was a wonderful situation for me,” Churm said. “We have veteran teachers and they know what they’re doing… They constantly go to the Ruth Patrick Center, and that’s a staple of what we do through science and math days. They’re always winning grants, such as the mini-grants from the Savannah River Site.”
The teachers have introduced hands-on activities such as a butterfly garden. Students often visit the Brick Pond Park Pavilion and its opportunities with wetlands and wildlife, such as otters and birds.
The faculty members also are planning to introduce a vegetable garden, said Churm. Such activities can tie into science with math, language arts and social studies across the curriculum.
Churm grew up in Camden, part of a family of educators. Her father was a superintendent in Kershaw County, and her sisters are teachers. She is a graduate of Presbyterian College with a degree in special education and elementary education.
Her husband Steve was in the Army, and they spent many years living in Georgia, Texas and Indiana, as well as Germany for six years. In that country Churm taught in DoDDs Schools - working with soldiers in adult education classes for compensatory math and reading skills.
“That was probably the best teaching I ever did,” Churm said. “The soldiers were very motivated, because they wanted to be promoted. Some would return to tell me how they had gotten their promotion.”
When Churm and her husband moved to North Augusta, she accepted a special needs, self-contained classroom at South Aiken High School. For several years afterward, she taught at Paul Knox Middle School before becoming an assistant principal there under Principal Gene Robbins. She then took the same position at North Augusta Elementary School with Principal Angela Burkhalter, before taking the principal’s job at Belvedere. She cites both principals as invaluable mentors.
“I do love middle school, but kids at elementary school hug and love you, “Churm said. “We have to make a difference for them and get ths skills they need. This plaque is all about the teachers. They work so hard everyday.”