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(Ashley Ivins, left, spent five days in Washington, D.C., learning innovative methods of...)

Selected in March as one of 10 top U.S. Math And Science teachers, Ashley Ivins has returned to Lincoln County after five days at the Fellows Institute in Washington, D.C.

The trip, taken the last week of July, and $8,500 to her classroom and school were part of the rewards for being named in the second class of the Science and Public (SSP) Fellows program.

Ivins was competitively selected from a large entrant pool of high school science and math teachers from 46 states and two U.S. territories.

"My trip to Washington, D.C., was the ultimate learning experience," Ivins said. "I met nine other innovative teachers from across the country and got to learn from and alongside them for five incredible days. We learned about teaching students how to do research and think like researchers from master teachers. We also learned about building partnerships and collaborating with universities and corporations. It was incredible for me to see that I'm not alone in what I want to do in the classroom and that there are other teachers that are also seeing results from non-traditional teaching."

Ivins reported that Vernier Software and Technology gave each of the 10 Fellows a LabQuest data collection interface and several probes to get students started using top of the line technology to research and collect data.

"We used the probeware in hands-on activities at the Institute to become more confident in integrating math, science and technology in our classrooms. Theseactivities were also filmed for an instructional video that will be made available for teachers. I had the honor of being one of the three Fellows who was interviewed during the process for the instructional video," she said.

While in D.C., Ivins was able to meet with Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senator Tom Udall and Representative Harry Teague who were each very interested in her award. They talked to her about her experiences and asked for suggestions about what could be done to improve educational opportunities for New Mexico students.

At the Fellows Institute, each of the Fellows had to draft an industry standard Project Management Plan.

"This was to ensure that the research programs we will be implementing during the next four years in our classrooms are well thought out with measurable goals to promote student success," Ivins said. "The entire experience was unforgettable and definitely has further shaped my approached to be 'outside the box.' "

Ivins is a Capitan High School graduate, with a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture Education from Eastern New Mexico University, Master's of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University. She is currently pursuing a Master's of Science Teaching from New Mexico Tech and administrative credentials from NMSU. She is also applying to several doctorate education programs throughout the U.S.

The 2010 class of Fellows includes teachers selected from rural and urban areas, large and small communities, and schools that serve under-resourced communities.

SSP Fellows design independent research programs to be implemented in their schools and develop a strong network of scientific mentors for their students. The Fellows Institute provides intensive training to teachers and enables each Fellow to earn graduate level credit.

"While going to school at Montana State University, I had the opportunity to work at a small private school for disadvantaged youth doing outdoor education," Ivins said. "I decided to return to New Mexico to teach like my mother, Betsy Peralta, an elementary teacher at Capitan Schools. My mom has been a great teaching role model. Other great teachers that have inspired me are Carla Burns, Chemistry teacher at Ruidoso High School; Gina Langley, former Biology Instructor at ENMU-Ruidoso; Mike O'Connor, my advisor and ag teacher at ENMU; and Frank Walston, my science teacher at Capitan High School. From them I learned to make learning interesting and most importantly that a teacher creates relationships with their students."

Ivins said none of it could have been done without all the support she received from her husband Ronan and her children Grady Le and Ryleigh. "I want every child to have the education that I want for my own kids," she said. "Only the best."

Ivins shared that recently she had considered quitting education because of a strong desire to help people in crisis.

"I was frustrated with the current system of traditional education. I was considering the medical profession when I realized that there was a crisis here with my own neighbors. Mescalero offered me a position and it was an opportunity to make a huge difference. I'm going to miss the wonderful kids that I taught in Carrizozo last year but I feel very needed in Mescalero," she said. "Things are falling in place for me to play a role in the reform of education as well. I am excited about the new challenges and opportunities before me.

Additional information about the Fellows program can be found at

The application process for the 2011 Fellows class will open in November 2010.

Society for Science & the Public is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the achievement of young re-searchers in independent research and to the public engagement in science. Established in 1921, its vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. For more information about SSP and its work