Caroline Little, a teacher at St. Thomas Academy in Mendoa Heights, has earned the 2019 WEM Outstanding Educator Award for Teacher Achievement. A $15,000 award from the WEM (Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan) Foundation accompanies the honor.
A former student at Marine Elementary School, Little is one of six educators being honored by the WEM Foundation and Synergy & Leadership Exchange for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student learning. She is one of two recipients of the Teacher Achievement Award, which recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students in learning and achievement.
Little has been teaching for 18 years and currently teaches high school French at St. Thomas Academy. She takes great pride in bringing STEM into her French language classroom. Translating commands involves not so much telling someone to wash their hands or bush their teeth, but where to put the solder or how short to cut the wires. Little’s French students hear about the International Space Station and the newest advances in engineering.
“Madame Little combines hands-on, active learning with listening skills as well as written text to create a unique learning environment that my child benefits from,” said a parent. “One of my child’s favorite activities in class was the opportunity to build a robot. All directions and interactions with other students and Madame were done in French. Students in her class learn and enjoy learning.”
Most recently, Little completed more than 50 hours of professional development at NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators. She worked with her advisory students to develop and build a Satellite Launching Experimental Device that was tested on the Precision Air Bearing Floor at Johnson Space Center. Little connected with her students during a virtual meeting and showed them how well their SLED design worked. Always thinking of ways to engage others, Little created a Twitter series, tweeting new and original pieces of artwork to connect with people around the world and build excitement for space travel.
“Little’s success is due to her acute ability to understand adolescent and adult learning styles, ability levels and technology comfort levels, as illustrated in her daily interaction with students and faculty at various grade levels,” said Michelle Mechtel, director of academic life. “She has a warm style that results in being uniformly loved by students, parents and faculty.”
In addition to the Teacher Achievement Award, other educators are being honored with the Academic Challenge Coach Award, Ethics in Education Award and Athletic Coach Award.
Educators are nominated for the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program by students, parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for consideration by Synergy & Leadership Exchange and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees. In addition to the six statewide honorees, educators have been selected as regional honorees for 2019.
Synergy & Leadership Exchange is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering collaboration to advance the development of ethical citizens, providing educational resources and celebrating achievement and best practices in Minnesota schools, businesses and communities.