Florentia Spires

2013-14 Albert Einstein Fellow

National Science Foundation
Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Computer and Network Systems

Middle school science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher
Washington, DC

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Florentia Spires, a native of the DC metropolitan area, is a STEM Curriculum Developer and Educator of 6th, 7th and 8th graders at the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. She served as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) advisor for the students in educating them about engineering disciplines that led to her taking them to attend the culminating national NSBE convention annually.

Spires obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She began her 27-year teaching career as a science, math and agriculture teaching career internationally as a Peace Corps Volunteer living and working in Botswana, Southern Africa for over a decade. During this time, she became a Peace Corps trainer and Headmistress charged to liaise between the United States and Botswana government to educate the incoming Peace Corps teacher volunteers about the mission, goals, and operations of the Botswana school system. After returning to the United States in the late 90’s, Spires obtained her Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. She began working in the private and public schools as a teacher with a focus on STEM education. She served as the Science Department Chair for 17 of her 27 years of teaching. Spires prides her diverse and extensive professional teaching experiences especially having taught students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and from every economic strand.

In December 2011, Spires was awarded the distinguishing honor of becoming one of only fifty NASA Endeavor Fellows. In this program, she earned certification in STEM Leadership in conjunction with Columbia University in June 2013. In 2012, Spires was a recipient of the INSPIRE Project Award that sends STEM educators to Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. She also received the honor of being selected as a Space Academy Ambassador following her Space Academy experience in August 2012. In 2013, Project INSPIRE tagged Spires once again as an Educator Scholarship Awardee to attend Advanced Space Academy for educators who will enhance their space mission knowledge base with underwater EVA’s. She was the sole educator awarded the highest honor during her July 2013 Space Academy experience entitled “The Right Stuff Medal”. In August 2013, Spires was bestowed by the District of Columbia Public School Superintendent as a finalist of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Science Education.

Spires is passionate about the task of educating youth particularly in underrepresented communities and believes that it is imperative to provide all students with a vast array of opportunities to engage them in STEM based activities as young as they are able to manipulate objects. With this exposure, she believes that children can grow and develop a solid foundation of understanding and learn which areas interest them in order to put them in a position to make informative decisions about what they like to do in their spare time. Spires believes that this approach will help students be more intentional by the seventh grade in knowing which path they would like to explore more without reservation particularly in the STEM fields but rather with confidence as they mature.

Spires’ interests include reading, writing, walking, swimming, gardening, traveling, learning about new cultures, assembling structures, and spending quality time with family. She enjoys playing scrabble, and crime scene investigative games. She enjoys serving as a STEM journalist for the online publication examiner.com. Spires is most proud of her publication entitled “Phenomenal Women in their Element as Nationally Acclaimed Chemists”. As a lifelong learner, Spires enjoys attending conferences and STEM related workshops to continually make connections and enhance her knowledge base in STEM education. She also takes pleasure in conducting STEM workshops for educators, administrators, parents, and students. Spires presented at the SEEC Conference in 2013, the Discovery Education Network (DEN): VirtCon Live Webinar International Presentation in 2012, and the 2nd Annual Uncommon Alliance Global Conference: STEM Around the World in 2012. As a single Mom, Spires is grateful for the solid moral support of her daughter.

Spires serves her fellowship at the National Science Foundation in the Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) in the Computer Network Systems (CNS) Division.