Debra Ericksen, winner of the 2016 Shugrue Award and a science teacher at Adamsville Primary School in Bridgewater, NJ, has developed interdisciplinary, inquiry-based lessons that encourage students to pursue their curiosity about the world.
Victor Hayek, Superintendent of Schools for Bridgewater-Raritan, says her “lesson plan incorporated NGSS standards and provided enhanced learning opportunities … students [were] engaged and excited throughout the lesson. They had opportunities to apply math skills to their investigations and were able to expand their content knowledge and understanding through rigorous use of informational text, research writing, and presentation of projects.”
As a member of the NGSS Teacher Leader Cohort, Ericksen has facilitated educator workshops that help teachers understand the NGSS and apply interdisciplinary instructional strategies. As a science coordinator, she introduced a new structure for the science fair where scientists and engineers serve as mentors and role models for students.
Candy Mulligan, K–4 Supervisor of Language Arts and Social Studies for Bridgewater-Raritan Schools, says, “What I find most impressive about Debra is the unique way in which she approaches her planning and instruction. She is not one to settle on doing the same thing over and over again. Each new school year Debra first seeks to understand the group of learners she has before her, and then she begins to decide how she can best meet their needs. She always strikes a balance between maintaining the integrity of the district curriculum while not being afraid to take a risk and try a different approach.”