By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer
Clovis Christian Elementary Principal Linda D’Amour is set to receive state recognition for her work teaching math and science.
She received the presidential award for excellence in mathematics and science teaching by the National Science and Math Foundation three times at the state level and once at the national level.
D’Amour said the state’s plan to recognize presidential awardees is an initiative to inspire students.
“Academically, (New Mexico) is not as high as we want to be in math and science,” D’Amour said. “This is part of an attempt to keep the momentum going, to keep kids excited about science, to get their minds learning and keep them questioning.”
D’Amour said she doesn’t think money is the solution for improving education.
“Our teachers and their training is the most crucial component in preparing our students,” she said. “Continual training and evolving. Teachers are the greatest commodity the state or a school has.”
D’Amour said her methods of teaching center around hands-on learning.
As an example, while observing a kindergarten class learn how to count with pennies, she turned the exercise into learning about the scientific method.
“Their fingers were getting dirty and they wanted to know why,” she said. “So I started asking them, ‘how would you clean pennies?’”
The process included the students writing a hypothesis, graphing the class’ predictions and testing out their theories.
“They were convinced soap and water would clean them because that’s what they know cleans their hands,” D’Amour said.
The class experimented with several cleaners including soap and water and ketchup.
“That’s all science is — you have a problem and you figure out how to solve it,” she said. “You want them to start thinking this way when they’re little bitty. As educators, we are working with so much potential. The more we encourage them the more we can keep them interested in learning.”
D’Amour said teachers today are preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist yet.
“We want to equip them with the skills to prepare them for this world,” D’Amour said. “We want them to be life-long learners.”
Kindergarten teacher Tam Curry said the staff at Clovis Christian are lucky to have D’Amour and her wealth of knowledge.
“We’re loving it,” Curry said. “And she has no problem sharing it.”
Curry said her students lit up during the science experiment.
“We want them to have that curiosity about how things work,” she said.
Curry said D’Amour is deserving of the recognition by the state.
“She makes a difference in our school and will probably do so at the state level,” Curry said.
D’Amour said she enjoys teaching teachers.
“I’ve been involved on the national and state level promoting math and science with teachers,” she said. “I love feeding back into the community.