Sherilyn Dawson received the Air Force Association local chapter Gen. Bruce Holloway Teacher of the Year Award and AFA’s State Teacher of the Year Award.
“Ms. Dawson won both awards based on her aerospace education instruction the past school year to both elementary and high school students,” AFA Lt. Col. Dave Garner stated in a press release.
Garner, a representative of the Bruce Holloway Chapter of AFA and Tennessee Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, further stated, “Ms. Dawson used STEM kits provided by the Civil Air Patrol to enhance her instruction with ‘hands on’ STEM lessons in aerospace science, robotics and space science, including a high-altitude balloon launch and recovery.”
That project involved her fourth-grade through high-school age students who worked together on the NASA-funded Pellissippi State and Maryville College’s High Altitude Balloon Launch to record last year’s total solar eclipse.
Dawson received the awards from Garner and AFA Lt. Col. Gary Lynn of Tennessee Wing Civil Air Patrol at an assembly last month at CCS.
“Having them come to our school and present the award, and knowing it would mean I was being considered for a national award, was very humbling,” Dawson said.
Based on receiving those awards, Dawson was accepted into this year’s Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority McGhee Tyson Aviation Academy, which runs for five weeks this summer.
She also was honored last year when she earned the 2017 Tennessee Wing Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Teacher of the Year award.
Dawson said she has “always been enthusiastic about science and related fields. I majored in chemistry and always had a love for computers and enjoyed rebuilding them on my own.”
That interest made a natural progression into STEM and STEAM (which includes the arts) teaching, which she sees as a “whole body” of learning to empower the students themselves to ultimately be the teachers.
“I encourage my students to figure out the problems, then be able to tackle the next ones,” she said.
STEM “is all about putting tools in the kids hands,” Dawson said, adding she sponsors a fishing club to help enhance science skills, and also brings in current events.
“Everything is fair game” in helping her students learn.
She has been at CCS since 2005. “The joy I get from teaching kids far exceeds anything else I have ever done in my life,” said Dawson, who also teaches at Oak Ridge Associated Universities.