Two St. Gregory’s Students Receive DaVinci Scholar Award
Of the five DaVinci Scholar Awards given statewide each year to undergraduate education majors, two will be awarded to St. Gregory’s University students Rae Anne Klement and Jessica Becker.
An education think tank, the DaVinci Institute annually honors five pre-service teachers who intend to teach in Oklahoma schools.
“It is remarkable that of only five DaVinci Scholar Awards, our students have captured two of them this year. It is a true testament to the quality of our education program,” D. Gregory Main, president of St. Gregory’s University, said.
The DaVinci Scholar Award is designed to honor academic accomplishments and service to the university by undergraduate education majors. Nominees must demonstrate the ability to integrate content into relevant applications through a service learning proposal that exemplifies scholarship, creativity, inventiveness, sound teaching techniques and a keen sense of responsibility.
Dr. Gayle Fischer, Director of Teacher Education at St. Gregory’s, said winning a DaVinci award goes beyond academics and looks at the student as a whole, and rewards creativity when it comes to teaching and community service. Fischer knew when she nominated these two students, they were both perfect, but said she was still amazed by the outcome.
“Those were the only two we submitted, and I knew they were both good, but I was especially surprised that both made it,” Fischer said. “I think it’s going to definitely allow people outside the university to know who we are and to see our education department in such a positive light.”
Becker, a senior from Shawnee, Oklahoma, focused her service learning proposal on elementary students writing narratives and stories in the classroom that could be taken to nursing homes, military bases or other community areas and be read in public.
After years in the classroom as a substitute teacher, and then as a paraprofessional in special education, Becker returned to school to receive her certification in elementary education. She said that winning this award was a humbling experience that helped reaffirm her decision to continue working in elementary education.
“I’ve taught for years, so to see that my ideas are recognized and validated by professionals in the field of education is a wonderful feeling,” Becker said. “It makes me feel like all of my work is paying off.”
Klement, a junior from Bokchito, Oklahoma, proposed a physical science service learning project for secondary education students that incorporated science principles learned in the classroom into building models of potential new playground equipment.
With Fischer’s encouragement, Klement applied for the award thinking her chances of winning were low since only five students in the state are selected.
“I really didn’t expect to win it. I was really hoping that it might happen, but I wasn’t expecting to win,” Klement said.
Becker and Klement were honored at the annual DaVinci Awards banquet held Friday, March 28. As part of the award, each will also receive a $1,000 check in October of their first year of teaching in an Oklahoma school to use at their discretion.
The mission of the DaVinci Institute is to promote a statewide creative renaissance through lectures, workshops, professional development, research and advocacy.