Tech Grad Selected As ‘Einstein Fellow’

SANTA FE, N.M. July 6, 2012 – A New Mexico Tech graduate has been selected as an “Einstein Fellow” and will serve as an educational advisor in Washington, D.C., next year.

Marcia Barton is a high school science teacher in Santa Fe and earned her Master’s of Science For Teachers in 2007. She will serve in the Directorate for Geosciences in the GEO Education and Diversity program under the guidance of Jill Karsten at the National Science Foundation.

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“It’s pretty exciting and unbelievable,” Barton said. “I’m thrilled and honored. I will be promoting geosciences and education.”

A native of Michigan, Barton earned a bachelor’s of science at the University of Michigan in 1977. She moved to Santa Fe about 20 years ago. She has taught environmental science, botany, chemistry and biology at Santa Fe High School.

She said her education at New Mexico Tech reinvigorated her and motivated her to excel in the classroom.

“I heard about the M.S.T. program at Tech from a friend of a friend,” she said. “After my first course, I was hooked. Science teachers are a rare breed. There’s not a lot of people who are excited about teaching science. Being in a cohort of math and science teachers in the M.S.T. program was refreshing and renewed my enthusiasm for teaching.”

Shortly after finishing her master’s, Barton was selected for the Toyota International Teacher’s program, which provided her with two weeks of study in the Galapagos Islands in 2008. Then, in 2010, she was selected for the Fulbright U.S.-Japan Teacher Exchange Program for Sustainability. That program provided her with two weeks of study in Japan.

“I’m really grateful for the M.S.T. program because it set me on a path for improving my teaching,” she said. “It was instrumental in opening up other opportunities for me as well.”

Barton said she finds rewards in opening the eyes of high school students to the possibilities of careers in science and the role of scientists in improving the world.

“Students today don’t know that hydrology, geology and volcanology exist,” she said. “I’m interested in seeing how we can open their eyes to the possibilities in areas like renewable energy.”

Barton said that today’s youths are concerned about the state of the world environment and the impact of human activity. Further, the next generation is interested in making a contribution to solving problems.

“In teaching my courses, students get to the point where they realize, ‘We’re screwed, aren’t we?’,” she said. “I say, ‘Yes, but we can still change. Here’s a personal solution and something that you can do that will make a difference’.”

Barton is one of 19 new Einstein Fellows have been selected to serve in four sponsoring agencies for the 2012-13 school year. The prestigious Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program offers K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers with a demonstrated excellence in teaching an opportunity to serve in the national education public policy arenas. Fellows were selected from a nationwide pool of over 200 applicants.

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program was authorized by an act of Congress in 1994. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy in partnership with the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education and participating host agencies.

Selected teachers spend a school year in the Washington, D.C., metro area serving in a federal agency or a Congressional Office. Barton and the other 18 Fellows will provide practical insight and a classroom perspective to policy makers and program managers developing or managing education programs. The Fellows help to increase understanding, communication, and cooperation between the STEM education community and legislative and executive branches of the Federal government.

Einstein Fellows bring the extensive knowledge and experience of classroom teachers and provide practical insights and “real world” perspectives to policy makers and program managers developing or managing educational programs. The participating host agencies include DOE, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech