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Longsjo Middle School's Becky Colo named 2021 Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Longsjo Middle School's (Fitchburg, Mass.) Becky Colo has been named the Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon Technologies Massachusetts STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Teacher of the Year. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft announced Colo as the STEM Teacher of the Year today, and her school will receive $5,000 to be used for STEM education. Colo will also serve for one year on the governor's STEM Council.

"Congratulations to Becky Colo," Kraft said in his announcement. "She is doing outstanding work to inspire our next generation of STEM professionals. Congratulations to all the nominees and the other four finalists."

"It's a tremendous honor to receive this prestigious award," Colo said. "I want to thank the Kraft family and Raytheon Technologies for their support of STEM programs and for teachers overall. To be selected a finalist was an honor, but I am thrilled to be named the Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year."

Colo uses blended book studies to provide students an opportunity to describe and question the world around them. "Reading and discussing the books helps students to understand the changes that are taking place in our biosphere and the related cause and effects," she said. "It also connected them to real life STEM professionals to help them develop a picture of what a scientist is beyond the image of a man in a white lab coat. The hands-on lab work we do in relation to the books provides them with a deeper understanding of the specific scientific concepts that are mentioned."

Outside of her classroom, Colo runs a STEM Club that encompasses spatial skill games, 3D design and printing, virtual reality tour creation, a STEM book club, and various hands-on STEM activities. She also has offered JV Inventeam, MathCounts, and a Road to College as well as an after-school math league team open to all students. Additionally, Colo plans and runs an ecology-based trip to the White Mountains for sixth graders where students learn about the geographical history of New England, local ecosystems, conservation, and mountaineering. She also facilitates common planning time with colleagues to show examples and strategies that inspire more interest and engagement within their own classes. 

"My students' interests are what motivate me; so my classes are constantly changing and evolving as different students come along with different passions, curiosities, and questions," Colo said. "When students learn to 3D print, code, create virtual reality tours, build a hydroponic garden or create stop-motion animation videos to show their learning, I've learned new skills along with them. My reason for teaching is to help my students find their own reasons for learning so their education can never be limited by my current knowledge or experience."

When the Covid-19 pandemic shut down in-classroom learning in the spring of 2020, Colo sought to maintain connections and sent each of her students a box of STEM-related books and launched a virtual book club. Students shared reflections and made recommendations to each other. She also presented students with at-home engineering challenges requiring minimal materials to continue promote screen-free hands-on learning.

Colo was also a finalist for the Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year award in 2019.

Moriah Illsley, The Hall's Education Coordinator, congratulated Colo for being named the Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon Technologies Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year.

"Becky is such an inspiring teacher who has developed her own styles to motivate and teach STEM to her middle school students," Illsley said. "Her use of blended book studies is an innovative way to reach students and allow them the freedom to discover. It also allowed her to quickly pivot when the pandemic abruptly halted in-class learning. She maintained critical connections while creating a STEM-related book club that allowed students to explore individual interests and share reflections with her and their classmates. Selecting the STEM Teacher of the Year is never and easy decision, but there is no doubt that Becky is deserving. On behalf of the selection committee, I want to congratulate her for this award."

Colo was chosen from a group of five finalists. The other four teachers' schools will each receive $1,000 for STEM education courtesy of Raytheon Technologies.

Those teachers are:

  • Tammy Rumplik – Granger and James Clark Elementary School (Agawam)
  • Jim Gorman – Nipmuc Regional High School (Upton)
  • Ralph Saint Louis – Lowell High School
  • Asha Von Ruden – Mount Everett Regional Middle and High School (Sheffield)

Hall Executive Director Bryan Morry thanked fellow selection committee members Allison Little and Keith Connors from the Department of Higher Education, Alexis Lian from the Executive Office of Education, Meto Raha from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Illsley for their work in selecting this year's STEM Teacher of the Year.

"Each of these individuals has shown a tremendous commitment to honoring excellence in STEM education and recognizing and supporting some of the best educators in the state," Morry said. "They commit a great deal of time and energy to this process, and we could not complete it without their efforts."

ABOUT THE STEM TEACHER OF THE YEAR PROGRAM

The Patriots Hall of Fame launched the STEM Teacher of the Year program in October of 2012 when Robert Kraft announced the initiative at the Massachusetts STEM Summit, held that year at Gillette Stadium. Colo is the ninth recipient of the award. Kelly Powers from the Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School was the inaugural winner in 2013. Other past winners include Doug Scott from Natick High School in 2014, Kerry Murphy from Oliver Ames High School in 2015, David Mangus from Brockton High School in 2016, Kathleen Malone from Derby Academy in Hingham in 2017, Erin Cronin from Revere High School in 2018, Amanda Hough from Mashpee Middle-High School in 2019, and Tori Cameron from the Gordon W. Mitchell School in East Bridgewater in 2020. The STEM Teacher of the Year award is part of the Patriots Hall of Fame's education program, which offers students in grades 4-12 standards-based educational modules in a fun, entertaining setting. The Hall typically hosts more than 20,000 school field trip visitors annually.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS HALL OF FAME PRESENTED BY RAYTHEON TECHNOLOGIES

Through a dazzling array of interactive multimedia exhibits and artifacts, The Patriots Hall of Fame showcases the tradition of the New England Patriots, explores the history of football in New England and promotes math and science education for thousands of schoolchildren each year. The Hall's signature exhibit is the Super Bowl Experience. Visitors to the interactive exhibit can re-live each of the team's Super Bowl championships, and view the Vince Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl championship rings. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.PatriotsHallofFame.com, visit "The Patriots Hall of Fame" on Facebook or follow @TheHall on Twitter and Patriotshall on Instagram.

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