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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Spires was recently appointed as a Master Educator for the District of Columbia Public Schools. Spires will evaluate teacher performance and coach novice teacher for STEM subject areas.  Spires was a Middle School Teacher at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science.  She taught a STEM Elective course to 6th - 8th grade students.  Her job title was a STEM coordinator and teacher.  Spires began her science-teaching career as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana, Southern Africa.  She also taught in the school district from which she graduated high school, Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland.  She then taught in a College Preparatory School, The Edmund Burke School before joining The Howard University Middle School.  Spires has been teaching for more than twenty years.

Spires is a PhD. Doctoral Student at Texas Tech University.  She is studying Global Science Education.  Her STEM Certification was earned through the NASA Endeavor Program and Columbia Teacher’s College.  Spires’ Master’s of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education was earned from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland.  She attended Bennett College for Women for her undergraduate studies in Biology.

Spires worked in The National Science Foundation during the 2013-2014 academic year.  Her assignment was with the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate as part of the Education Workforce team in Computer Network and Systems.  She worked on several projects that promoted an increase in the number of well-trained teachers in Computer Science Education to 10,000 to be placed in 10,000 schools across the nation.  Spires worked on other projects that included feasibility studies, program analysis, operation of panel reviews, and organized a poster board session for the National CE 21 conference.   Spires also presented a project on the Science of Snow to teachers in the DC metro area at The National Science Foundation leading up to the Winter Olympics.   Spires greatest accomplishment was the creation of the CE21 booklet of Computer Science projects that was disseminated to all of the Principal Investigators during the 2014 CE 21 National Conference.  Spires recalls the lessons that she learned was primarily how the government operates in identifying the leaders in the field of STEM and how they can contribute to change in policy that will ultimately trickle down to the teacher and change in the methodology and content being taught to students.  The fellowship experience has inspired Spires to work towards having an even greater impact in ensuring that students have access to quality STEM programs for learning that ultimately impact their future endeavors.  Spires is particularly passionate about women, minorities, and having more access to STEM fields and quality programs.  Spires served on a National Defense Panel addressing rising educators and administrators from the military sector.  Spires also served on a panel for the Department of Energy discussing Equal Pay for Women and STEM Education.  Spires was interviewed with local television station D.C. Breakdown discussing STEM Education sharing how partners in education can make a difference.

Florentia has received numerous awards and recognitions.  She is most proud of her selection as a State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching State Finalist, the NASA Endeavor Fellowship for STEM Education, and the Helen DeVitt Jones Fellowship for Doctoral Students in Teacher Education.  Florentia is also proud of her contribution to the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission project that she worked on.  Whilst serving as an Einstein Fellow, Florentia regularly provided GPM lessons to African American students at the Spaulding Public library leading up to the launch of the GPM satellite in February 2014.  Florentia remains a NASA Master Educator Emeritus for the GPM Project.

Florentia’s teaching philosophy is that every student should be provided with a fair chance to have access to diverse learning opportunities to acquire knowledge.  Spires believes that knowledge is power.  “Students should never be stifled from having access to life changing information because of biases that their educational leaders bring with them to the classroom.  By leveling the playing field in education, every child has an opportunity to thrive in the acquisition of knowledge”.  Spires understands that sometimes a teacher has to dig deeper to find out what is impacting and sometimes hindering a child’s ability to engage and grasp content but deeply believes that very child can learn and this secret should be unveiled at all cost.