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The City Journals

Utah Teacher Selected to Attend Prestigious Leadership Academy

Aug 03, 2015 12:53PM ● By Bryan Scott

Amy Pace

By Lewi Lewis

Online charter school Mountain Heights Academy teacher, Amy Pace, is one of four teachers nationwide - and the only one from Utah - to be selected to attend the 2015 TOMODACHI Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy in Tokyo, Japan.

Pace will join a team of Japanese counterparts to design disaster-resilient smart communities of the future, and work with other teachers and students toward development of solutions to problems that are central to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the engineering design process.

“I was super excited,” Pace said about her chances of being selected. “I felt like when I applied it was a long shot because they were only taking four teachers in the entire United States. But I decided I would just give it a shot.”

That shot hit its mark.

The passion Pace has for teaching is evident in the essay she wrote that got her selected to the program at the Science & Technology Leadership Academy. It outlines how she has utilized growing technology to improve her teaching, as well as the experience for her students.

The technology of the online classroom has more benefits than the traditional classroom, according to Pace. 

“One of the things is that if you know what is going on you don’t just have to sit there,” she said, explaining that the students get to set a pace that they are comfortable with. “You can go through the material much quicker than you would [a traditional school] … and even though the students are in the same class, because of this technology, I am able to really customize what each student sees.”

But does Pace miss the orthodoxy of the physical classroom? Parts of it, she admits.

“I don’t miss interacting with my students because I do that probably more so now than I ever did in a regular classroom, and I taught in a regular classroom for 11 years so I have a really grasp on that aspect of teaching.”

Pace said that the cyber classroom gives her more time focusing on a really good lesson, rather than repeating the same lesson multiple times throughout the day.

Pace knows just how great an opportunity that the acceptance to the Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy is, not just for herself, but for her students as well. 

“I hope that I can make some contacts with the other teachers from the United States and Japan so that we can work together on projects between our students using the digital technology … so we can see what kind of things in science they are doing and they can see what we are doing, hopefully for the best, and incorporate that shared knowledge into our classes.”