This award is meaningful because it is a result of taking risks in the classroom by developing curriculum that pushes students to make abstract connections to the world around them. It required giving students extended time to create art and engineering projects all the while balancing the science curriculum map. It is a reflection of the adventurous students I have the great privilege of teaching, and the mentors I have had along the way. This honor makes the glitter cleanup worthwhile!

Carrie Beth Rykowski Cumming, GA | K-6, Science, 2016

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

An educator for eight years, Carrie Beth Rykowski is in her eighth year of teaching at Vickery Creek Middle School. She recently created a STEAM elective course and currently teaches it to sixth through eighth grade students. Previously, she taught sixth grade science. The highly collaborative STEAM course is rooted in science concepts and extends into art, robotics, and computer science. Carrie Beth has developed a makerspace STEAM lab that is equipped with 3-D printers and other prototyping equipment, so students can learn 21st century skills through designing solutions to problems. The inspiration for the course stems from her time spent at Georgia Tech during the last four summers as part of the Georgia Intern Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) program The GIFT program pairs classroom teachers with engineering mentors in an effort to create lesson plans for students. Carrie Beth received her undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech, a B.S. in management, cum laude, which was followed by a Master's of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in middle childhood education, magna cum laude, from Georgia State University. She holds a gifted endorsement and certifications for mathematics and science teaching in fourth through eighth grades, and another in engineering and technology. She was elected Teacher of the Year in 2015, and received the GIFT Action Plan Achievement Award in 2016 and 2017.