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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County schools. You can email him at

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Two Spotsylvania teachers recognized for science, tech teaching

Brenda Conway, left, and Ashley Nocera.

Assistant Superintendent Scott Baker just recognized two Spotsylvania teachers who were honored for teaching that employed “exceptional use of 21st century tools.”

Brenda Conway, an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher with the division, won the award from the  Fredericksburg Regional Technology Council.

Ashley Nocera,  a science teacher at Ni River Middle School, was the division’s other finalist.

Both were recognized at tonight’s School Board meeting.

Below are details of the recognition presented by Dr. Baker to the board tonight.

On May 22, 2012 at the Fredericksburg Regional Technology Council (Fred Tech) Awards Banquet, two Spotsylvania educators were selected as finalists for the Educator of the Year Award.  This year, one of the ITRTs was selected to receive the award; however, both educators deserve recognition.
The award is given to the educator who provides exceptional use of 21st century tools to support the teaching and student learning process in the (k-12) classroom.  The recipient insures student learning of the curriculum, 21st century instructional and assessment practices, and a learning environment that produces student outcomes that support student success in the work place or educational environment.  The award was funded by Infinity Technologies.  The plaque was accompanied by a $500 check.  Ashley Nocera, Science Teacher from Ni River Middle School, and Brenda Conway, Instructional Resource Teacher, were finalists for the award.
Brenda Conway is an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher with Spotsylvania County Schools. She is a NASA Outreach Educator, has participated in the Honeywell Space Camp for Educators, and traveled on Northrop Grumman’s Weightless Flights of Discovery.  She is known for her dedication to increasing STEM education in SCS by designing and expanding programs which foster this goal.SCS participates in the Virginia Demonstration Project, a robotic program initiated to increase student interest in STEM careers and is incorporated into the 7th and 8th grade.  While at NRMS, Brenda developed a 6th grade moon unit which is now a model being used throughout the county.  “Mission Possible” is a videoconferencing project she created in 2008.  She connects with students at other schools to teach them about current NASA missions and the technologies needed to explore other planets.  Students work collaboratively to create mission proposals and then present their proposal back to her.  This project is now being replicated in four middle schools in the county.Programs developed and implemented are well-thought out and consideration is given once it is determined that they are easily replicated, inexpensive, and sustainable beyond the initial implementation.  Program development is based on sustainability, rigor, and alignment with the division’s Technology Plan.  


Brenda is the co-creator of “Mad About STEM” which is a professional learning opportunity for teachers as well as an after-school program for middle school students.  The goal of this project is to provide support through embedded coaching so teachers can make pedagogical changes in their classrooms to meet the needs of a changing workforce.  The goal for the 2012-2013 school year is to increase from currently servicing three middle schools to implementing in all seven middle schools.
Like Brenda, Ashley Nocera, 6th grade science teacher leader at Ni River Middle School, blends pedagogy with new approaches to teach science to her students.  She works closely with Brenda and the rest of the STEM teacher leaders in the school division to promote the STEM initiatives.  Ashley also was active in Mad about STEM and is the primary catalyst in promoting the STEM Lab to other teachers at NRMS.
Congratulations to both of these educators for their work and accomplishments in secondary science in our school division.