The integration of education and technology sets Prescott South Elementary teacher Natalie Beach apart.
PBS has recognized Beach and sixteen other educators from across the nation as PBS Early Learning Champions.
Cindy Putman is the Ready to Learn Project Manager at PBS affiliate WCTE.
“The Early Learning Champion is someone that has just been so influential in the lives of children and that person is using PBS kids resources in their classroom,” Putman said. “And they are trying to help children understand the importance of integrating technology.”
Beach said the honor highlights the work of various types of educators.
“Early childhood educators are not usually the ones we think about when people are being awarded things for teaching,” Beach said. “I was actually one of only two or three public school teachers out of the seventeen. Everyone else was part of a daycare or a museum.”
Beach said Prescott South Elementary’s STEM designation allows her to better integrate technology in the classroom.
“The technology partnerships with PBS and the STEM knowledge that I have been able to develop through teaching at a STEM school like Prescott South,” Beach said. “Means that I can bring those things together to make them appropriate for little kids.”
Beach said integrating STEM can prove difficult for young students.
“So part of it is you have to scale everything down to their ability level. You have a grand idea and then you get there and realize that they are still little and that they need a lot of help to do it. Part of it is the time. We have as teachers a lot of constraints on our time and what we have to do and what we have to teach.”
Putman said the award not only looks good for Prescott but also the Upper Cumberland.
“It’s really important because Natalie was one of seventeen people across the United States of America that won this first Early Learning Champions PBS Kids award,” Putman said. “And I am honored that she is representing WCTE on a national level and talking about the great work that our school system is doing.”
Beach said the award also allows her to engage with innovative educators across the nation.
“So being able to just network with people and bring what they have to rural Tennessee and to really show-off what we are doing in rural Tennessee that people don’t even know exists. So it is both being able to show off what we are doing and to be able to bring more things in so that we continue to grow our practices.”
Beach said the Early Learning Champions will collaborate at a conference this year.