A Carmel Elementary teacher has won a prestigious Fulbright Award!
Carmel Elementary School STEM enrichment specialist Merry Willis has been selected by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant to study in New Zealand.
Recipients are selected based on their academic and professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential; Ms. Willis is one of only 45 U.S. citizens named Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant winners for 2016-17. She will visit Wellington, New Zealand from February to June of 2017 and observe how technology impacts student learning throughout the country. Ms. Willis will focus on developing classroom resources, collaborative relationships and cross-cultural professional development for teachers in New Zealand and the U.S. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, according to the State Department, and is “designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to “study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” Prominent Fulbright alumni include: Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; John Hope Franklin, noted American historian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; and Riccardo Giacconi, physicist and 2002 Nobel Laureate.
Ms. Willis has received numerous honors in her education career, which she began in 2004 at Carmel ES and where she previously has taught Grades 3–5. Recent honors include being named a 2015-16 Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert and 2015 Master Trainer, Museum of Aviation National STEM Academy’s STEM Teacher of the Year for 2015-15, Pitsco National Teacher of the Year for 2013- 14, 2011 Emerging International Society for Technology in Education Leader, 2011 Carmel ES Teacher of the Year and 2009 National Mickelson ExxonMobil Teacher's Academy participant. She is a coach for Carmel Elementary’s Science Olympiad and Academic Teams, sponsors the Technology Club, and for three years has served as lead teacher for CCSD’s STEM Cherokee professional development programs. An adjunct professor at Reinhardt University and a Cherokee County Special Olympics Swim Team volunteer coach, Ms. Willis also has served on the Regional and State Technology Fair Planning Committees, State National Educational Technology Standards for Students lesson plan development team and Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Tests Content Review and Data Analysis Teams.
Ms. Willis, who has Gifted teaching and Teach 21 technology endorsements, earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree from Kennesaw State University and Master’s Degree in Educational Technology and Educational Specialist Degree in Technology Management and Administration from Nova Southeastern University.