An Interview with Hilary Moore: Empowering STEAM Educators Through Grant Opportunities

Hilary Moore is a STEAM Coordinator at Cirrus Academy Charter School in Georgia and a recent grant recipient of the Teacher Innovator Institute at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.! After receiving the Winter 2022 EdTec Grants Newsletter, which her school’s founder forwarded to her, Hilary was encouraged to apply.

The Teacher Innovator Institute is a professional learning community of middle school STEAM teachers who spend a two-week intensive in Washington, D.C., working with education and STEAM experts to explore the connections between informal STEAM education and authentic learning.

We reached out to Hilary to learn more about the process of applying for the grant, her experience participating in the National Air and Space Museum Teacher Innovation Institute, and the impact that her experience will have in the classroom!


EdTec: Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as STEAM Coordinator at Cirrus Academy Charter School.

Hilary: I love science and technology. I have worked in science/STEM education for almost ten years from tutoring and camps to schools. I’m in my fourth year of classroom teaching. As a STEM coordinator, I teach STEM/STEAM as well as share resources with my teachers, and plan STEAM events. I am always on the lookout for new technologies, strategies, and resources in STEAM.

EdTec: How did you learn about the Smithsonian grant? What was the proposal process like?

Hilary: The founder of my school recently received the Winter 2022 EdTec Grants Newsletter. He forwarded the newsletter to me and encouraged me to apply to the program. Applying to the program at the time required a video introduction, signed principal approval, two recommendation letters, and professional learning goals. Applicants were also required to provide responses to short answer questions about their school, community, and teaching goals. During the program, I learned applicant criteria varies every year.

EdTec: How did it feel to be awarded such a prestigious grant? What was your first reaction?

Hilary: Like many others, initially, I was shocked that I was accepted into the 2022 cohort. Afterwards, I was thrilled and had moments of hesitancy knowing I would be away from family for two weeks during summer break, but my family gave me their full support. Their push helped me own this accomplishment and bask in it.

EdTec: What are some of the most valuable experiences or lessons from the National Air and Space Museum Teacher Innovation Institute that you are excited to bring back to the classroom? How do you plan to incorporate the inspiration into your work with students this school year?

Hilary: I gained so many valuable experiences from attending NASM TII this summer. It’s almost too many to count. First, having the opportunity to network with teachers from around the country was huge. I was able to learn about different perspectives in education, collaborate on ideas and projects, and gain long-distance friends. The second most valuable experience was exploring our nation’s capital. We were able to explore the museums through authentic object-based learning. There were also downtime opportunities for us to tour on our own and fun group outings built into our schedule. Lastly, taking STEM classes and learning about and/or receiving STEM resources at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center took the cake. Teachers are always in need of new strategies and tools to educate our diverse learners.

This year, I created a STEM pacing guide that includes many of the resources and strategies I discovered at TII. We were given an Ozobot and other coding software. I’ve used my Ozozbot to help with literacy by creating a story using cloze notes/maze. My students are learning about color codes. The Ozobot starts at the beginning of the story and makes it to the finish line by following the codes students create. One of my other TII inspired projects involves Chibitronics paper circuitry. All my classes will complete a Chibitronics project with materials I received from my funded Donors Choose paper circuitry project. I also learned about Donors Choose while attending TII. I plan to incorporate more TII fundamentals in the years to come.

EdTec: What advice would you give other charter school teachers and leaders when it comes to the value of grant opportunities and making time to pursue them?

Hilary: The advice I would give to other charter school teachers and leaders is to get the news out about these awesome grant opportunities! Programs such as TII are here for the betterment, appreciation, and advancement of educators. I not only gained valuable experiences, but I also truly felt valued for what I do and who I am. So, I think it’s extremely important for teachers and leaders to spread the news about the types of grants and programs being offered. These opportunities are easily missed if you are not in the loop. In addition, I would tell any educator thinking of applying to these types of programs to be confident in their impact and let it show in your application and goals. They want to know what fuels you, who you are, and how you think. Finally, be open and ready to receive your new adventures.

We would like to thank Hilary Moore for sharing her wonderful experience and the impact she has as an educator!

If you are interested in signing up for EdTec’s Grant Newsletter to stay up to date about upcoming grant opportunities you can do so here. EdTec also provides support with grant research and writing for schools interested in pursuing funds for special projects. In addition, we work with developing schools to complete applications for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). If you are interested in learning more about these services, please reach out to our grants team.


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