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Dr. Lori Shrode selected as Teacher Fellow for Northrop Grumman Teachers Academy

MADISON – Dr. Lori Shrode, science teacher at Liberty Middle School, has been chosen as a Teacher Fellow in the 2022 Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy.

Shrode and 21 other educators across the country will concentrate on expanding STEM opportunities globally for students. Participants will attend National Science Teachers Association’s conference in July in Chicago. In immersive internships, delegates will observe workforce skills at the local Northrop Grumman facility.

Sharon Powell at Madison City Schools’ Central Office told Shrode about the fellowship program, and Shrode applied. The academy’s goal is STEM-literate students who appreciate lifelong learning.

“We want our students to make connections between all subjects and take roles of scientist and engineer,” Shrode said. “I’ll participate in an externship at the local Northrop Grumman facility (to) learn industry-specific skills.”

As a Teacher Fellow, Shrode will participate in a “learning community over the next year and bring back what I’ve learned to my classroom and our district. I’ll promote this style of learning to other teachers through an online district forum.”

“I will be a voice promoting equity in access to STEM,” Shrode said. “We’ll create a learning community where we focus on imagination, humanity, creativity and other characteristics that make us unique as a species to meet challenges of the future.”

In her classroom, Shrode applies her background as a research scientist in genetics to direct her teaching. She incorporates hands-on learning with labs so students realize how concepts exist as part of their world.

She primarily teaches seventh-grade life science, along with a Project Lead the Way class, “Medical Detectives,” for grades 7-8. For four years, Shrode has coached Liberty Science Olympiad Team for grades 6-9.

In her medical detective course, Shrode uses project-based learning. Students assume roles of doctor, epidemiologist and research scientist to diagnose patients, explore the nervous system and determine the outbreak source of a food-borne illness.

“Students enjoy learning through the engineering process. We all use this process as we solve problems in our everyday lives. We start with a problem, design a solution, test our solution, and then redesign to make it better,” Shrode said.

“Students who love video games do this constantly . . . our goal should be to harness that love of discovery, creativity and problem-solving when teaching STEM concepts,” Shrode said.

She was born in Huntsville but grew up in Decatur. She graduated from Decatur High School.

At Auburn University, she earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. Shrode received a doctorate’s degree in genetics at Texas A&M University. For teacher certification, she studied at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Starting her career, Shrode worked in Monsanto Company’s crop pest tolerance in St. Louis, Mo., and then as graduate research assistant at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Next, she worked as Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In Frederick, Md., Shrode worked for Legal and General America. Since 2017, she has taught grades 6-8 at Liberty.

Recently, Shrode and a teacher group led 30 seventh- and eighth-graders to Dauphin Island Sea Lab to observe reduced oxygen levels and dead zones in the ocean. On a research vessel, students measured oxygen levels at different depths in the Gulf.

Students then brainstormed about possible reasons for reduced levels by using their knowledge gained from units on ecosystems, limiting factors and energy flow through the ecosystem. Their understanding about causes led to productive discussion on answers to these real-world problems.

“Seeing students lead this discussion and make connections to content are the reasons I decided to move into teaching,” Shrode said.

For more information, visit https://www.nsta.org/northrop-grumman-foundation-teachers-academy-2022.

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