Rare honor for KFMS teacher

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Debra Shapiro, who received a discretionary educators’ association citation, prepares for the new school year in her King’s Fork Middle School classroom.

A King’s Fork Middle School teacher has become only the eighth person to receive a discretionary state education association award in its 13 years of existence.

Debra Shapiro, a science, technology, engineering and math teacher for grades six through eight, recently received a Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association presidential citation.

As chair of the association’s Electronic Communication Committee, Shapiro created a website portal where teachers can share “best-practice” information, like lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations and tips, to improve teaching skills.

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The association represents technology and engineering teachers and administrators, said Shapiro, who was named chair of the committee last year.

“On our V.T.E.E.A. website, they have wanted to have a members-only portal where we could share instructional materials, lesson plans and activities,” she explained. “They had tried getting that done for a few years and it hadn’t happened. It was one of the assignments I was given.

“I’m one of those people who if I’m handed a job, I try to do my best to accomplish it.”

User names and passwords for the portal were handed out at the association’s summer conference last Wednesday.

“It was really exciting because it was something that my group and I had been working hard to make happen,” Shapiro said.

“I’m fortunate to have a wonderful committee of people working with me. I think the membership was pretty excited about it, too.”

The portal, she said, “gives teachers a place to go to find things, to start stocking their repertoire, and even some of us older dogs, giving us some new tricks.”

Shapiro teaches her sixth-graders “introduction to technology” and seventh- and eighth-graders “technological systems.”

“Our whole society is technology dependent at this point in time, and our kids need to be prepared to work in a world that’s technological,” she said.

It’s not just teaching about computers, she said, but “agriculture, biotechnology, construction, energy and power, manufacturing, medicine and transport” are all subjects covered in Shapiro’s classroom.

“We work with robots and lasers … we’re going to start doing forensics this year, which I think the kids will be really excited about.”

Shapiro’s lessons focus a lot on the workplace, she said. “You need to have them ready to start looking for jobs not too far into their future,” she added.

“Most of them leaving here at 14 are not too far away from having that first job. I think that workplace-readiness carries over into the classroom.”