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Catherine Scott, new coordinator of UNC-BEST

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Catherine Scott

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Catherine Scott, a former high school mathematics teacher and Emmy-award winning director of the NASA eClips™ program, has joined the School of Education faculty as the new coordinator of the UNC-BEST program.

While teaching for 14 years in Northern Virginia, Scott also completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Virginia and earned National Board Certification in Adolescent and Young Adult Mathematics.  

She then began doctoral study at George Mason University, where she earned a Ph.D. last May, specializing in Mathematics Education Leadership with a secondary concentration in Instructional Technology.

During her doctoral studies, Scott served on the faculty of the Northern Virginia Center of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, working with master’s degree students in secondary mathematics education in Falls Church, Va.

In 2008, she became a director with the NASA eClips™ program at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The eClips program is an initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to produce short, educational video segments for teachers to use in their classrooms to help K-12 students see real-world connections to STEM topics (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The NASA eClips™ program received several awards during the 2008-2009 seasons, including the Disney iParenting Media Award and an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter. 

Although Scott valued the opportunity to work and travel with producers, educators, programmers and media personnel on the NASA project, she says she missed being with students. “The thing I like most about working with students is the energy and enthusiasm that they bring to the classroom,” she notes.  

Scott is excited to come to Carolina and work with college students who are aspiring teachers. She believes that the most important thing we can do for K-12 students in the United States is to ensure that they have excellent teachers, and she likes the direction UNC has taken in preparing teachers.

“The faculty has been re-thinking how to train teachers more efficiently while maintaining quality,” she notes. The UNC-BEST program ─ which she will coordinate ─ is designed to address that goal.

An innovative collaboration of the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences, UNC-BEST gives undergraduate science and mathematics majors the opportunity to earn teaching licensure while completing their undergraduate science and mathematics degrees. As a result, these students receive thorough content preparation combined with education course work that focuses on putting theory into practice.

The first cohort of eight UNC-BEST students graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill last May. Twenty students are currently enrolled in the program.

In addition to coordinating the program, Scott also will teach the education courses to the UNC-BEST students. “At the end of the day, I want to believe that what I did really made a difference,” she says. “UNC-BEST provides an opportunity to do that.”  

Scott was drawn to UNC-Chapel Hill by the dedication and the warmth of the faculty and staff when she visited. “I’m thrilled to be part of a team that is seriously interested in doing something bigger and better for students in the classrooms,” she says. “At the School of Education, the dean, the faculty and the staff all work together toward this goal.

“I’ve traveled all over the country in the last 18 months, and I know that every place isn’t like that,” she commented. “North Carolina is a special place to work and live!”