Teacher Appreciation Week is the time to honor and celebrate the incredible dedication, hard work, and impact that these educators have around the world. It is a week where students, parents, and community members can come together to express their gratitude for the commitment teachers have to shaping the minds of future generations.

One of our very own volunteers and Pre-University Education Coordinating Committee (PECC) members, Elizabeth Alves, happens to be a school teacher in the United States with over 20 years of experience! Elizabeth works with special education students, with emotional regulation impairment and mild to moderate learning disabilities. She has taught elementary and middle school students, from ages 6-13. TryEngineering was able to chat with Elizabeth recently, to discuss her experience as a teacher!

“Full transparency: I wanted to be a mom and still have a career where I could work as a humanitarian,” Elizabeth stated when we asked what inspired her to become a teacher. “I never expected to grow within my mission and vision as much as I did and continue to do. Initially, I simply wanted to provide the best instruction to all learners, so that each individual can reach their fullest potential.” After Elizabeth switched from General Education to Special Education, she found that her students, especially those considered neuro-diverse, excelled in the kinetic modalities. This is a directly transferable skill to the tech industry. “They just needed help organizing their thoughts and building resiliency when their brain was overstimulated,” Elizabeth expressed. “So what inspired me to be a teacher is not what kept me here. The important question is why I never left. I stayed because I found a way my problem solving nature can actually help others in this world. I stay to improve positive post graduate outcomes.”

Elizabeth has faced her share of challenges as an educator. Some of these challenges came from students, but the most difficult challenges were from long standing policies and practices. But Elizabeth’s family taught her not to sit idly by! “Using this mentality, I created a cadre for recruitment and retention of special education professionals from around the nation that I met in my various advisory capacities since the pandemic,” Elizabeth stated. “Our mission is to promote positive post graduate outcomes, including students entering the STEM field through the recruitment and retention of highly effective staff.”

Elizabeth has developed a variety of strategies for engaging her students in not only STEM subjects, but the learning process as well. “When I first started introducing Career and Life Key Skills, and later Sustainable Development Goals, that’s when I saw the students soar in confidence and the joy of learning,” Elizabeth commented. “They were able to verbalize that what they did mattered. They were also really impacted by specific positive feedback. Letting them know what I saw that they were good at and how it relates to the STEM field.” Elizabeth’s fellow teachers have also adopted this strategy, and she has enjoyed watching her coworkers and their students triumph as well!

In addition to strategies, every educator also needs a good collection of teaching tools! “Lessons and games from TryEngineering of course!” Elizabeth revealed, when asked what tools she personally uses in the classroom. “We LOVE the new Keysight lessons. My middle school kids spent weeks experimenting with electric dough and RGB LEDs. This key lesson taught them just how lazy electrons can be!” In fact, Elizabeth’s teachings with the TryEngineering lesson plans even allowed her students to correct one of their instructors, who was having trouble understanding why his model rocket wouldn’t power off. “The instructor was amazed. These special needs kids were schooling him and he was loving it!”

TryEngineering would like to thank Elizabeth for taking the time to share with us, and for all she does as an educator to help prepare the next generation of innovators! To view the Keysight lesson plans that Elizabeth uses in her classroom, be sure to visit the Keysight Partnership page.