Named a Kenan Fellow, Catamount School’s Amanda Clapp to participate in STEM project

Amanda Clapp

Amanda Clapp, a science teacher at the Catamount School, the laboratory middle school operated by Western Carolina University in partnership with Jackson County Schools, has been named a Kenan Fellow for 2019-20.

Clapp is one of 27 educators across the state chosen for the fellowship and one of six Kenan Fellows in Western North Carolina who will work to make connections between their classrooms and authentic science, technology, engineering and math (also known as “STEM”) practices in the workplace as part of the WNC STEMwork project.

The Kenan Fellows Program was established in 2000 as a K-12 education initiative of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at North Carolina State University. It focuses on providing high-quality professional development for educators and is the largest STEM-focused teacher fellowship in the state. Participating educators receive a $5,000 stipend for their work.

Supported through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Clapp and the other WNC teachers will participate in three-week internships with local businesses and industries beginning in June, immersing themselves in the STEM fields of intercommunications, textiles, power management, agriculture, aviation and manufacturing. Clapp will fulfill her internship working with Teresa Mallonee of Tek Tone Sound and Signal of Franklin, a designer and manufacturer of intercommunication solutions for health care, residential and commercial markets.

Over the course of their fellowships, Clapp and the other STEMwork Fellows will work together to increase their understanding of the industries located throughout the region, their workforce needs, and how K-12 educators can make relevant connections for students. They also will gain expertise in developing and conducting project-based learning units that can bridge STEM in school with STEM at work. In the summer of 2020, the teachers will be trained as facilitators for the STEMwork Professional Development Institute, a learning program designed by the Kenan Fellows Program to scale workforce education across regions.

“Developing K-12 teacher leaders with expertise in workforce education will help to build those links between industry and the classroom that provide students with the necessary skills and resources to better prepare for the careers of tomorrow,” said Elaine Franklin, director of the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership.

Clapp joined the staff of the Catamount School when it opened in August 2017 on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School. She previously taught biology and other subjects for students attending the high school and also spent 10 years teaching middle school science at Cullowhee Valley School. Born near Boston, Clapp studied natural resources conservation and physical anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and primate ecology and evolution at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I’m really excited to have this opportunity to help improve and increase STEM education in Western North Carolina, and I can’t wait to get started with the internship at Tek Tone Sound and Signal,” Clapp said. “I believe the knowledge I’ll gain from this experience – and the combined knowledge that will be gained by all six WNC STEMwork Fellows – will have a meaningful impact in our classrooms and create a ripple effect that will benefit students and STEM education all across the region.”

For more information about Clapp’s participation in the STEMwork project, contact her at agclapp@wcu.edu.