Monkton Central School’s Gagner honored for innovative teaching

MONKTON — Kate La Riviere Gagner, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Monkton Central School, has received two honors for her innovative science and design technology teaching practices. Gagner was selected for a Winter 2016 Engineering is Elementary Teacher Scholarship, or EiE, from Boston’s Museum of Science, and as a VITA-Learn IGNITE Educator.
She was also chosen to be an educational ambassador for the Polar 3D printing company and received a 3-D printer to use in her classroom to advance engineering and design tech goals. Gagner said she has long been interested in education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — what is commonly referred to as STEM.
“STEM is an area that I am focusing on in my professional development,” she said. “It is an exciting field and one with a lot of possibility for me as a teacher and for my students.”
A member of the K-5 Science Professional Learning Team facilitated by Kathy Renfrew at the Vermont Agency of Education, Gagner is an early adopter of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); officials in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union called her a talented innovator in her teaching and learning environment.
Her application for the EiE scholarship was based on her design, implementation and experience integrating a “maker” mindset, through the use of Genius Hour, tinkering and personalization in her learning space. The “Mini-Maker Faire” she organized at Monkton Central last spring was featured in the Addison Independent.
Gagner will spend a weekend at the Museum of Science in Boston learning about the EiE curriculum and come back to her classroom with materials to then implement it in her classroom.
“We are very proud of Kate as well as excited to see how she will use these learning experiences to continue to energize and inspire not only ‘The Gagner Gang’ at MCS, but also her colleagues throughout the district,” said ANeSU Interim Superintendent Armando Vilaseca.
In addition to the EiE scholarship, Gagner was recognized as one of Vermont’s transformative and innovative teachers by receiving a VITA-Learn IGNITE educator award (IGNITE stands for Inform, Gather, Nourish, Innovative, Transformative Educators). She will be celebrated at a daylong event in Montpelier in March where educators, administrators and technology integrators will identify and promote transformative and innovative practices in Vermont schools. By connecting the voices of innovative educators in the classroom, in leadership positions, and in technology support roles, Vita-Learn IGNITE can fuel the transformation movement into one that spreads beyond classroom walls.
“I love the idea that I am modeling how to create my own learning opportunities for my students,” Gagner said. “I try to teach them that they are in charge of their learning and, when opportunities present themselves, you have to jump on them because you never know what will happen. Keeping yourself engaged and curious is such an important life and career skill.”

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