“I remember thinking that I would love to be a scientist and go into space,” Lane, a teacher at Lake Riviera Middle School in Brick said this week after it was announced that she is one of 13 teachers from around the nation selected as a 2016-2017 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow.
The program takes teachers from in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and has them serve with a federal agency, to bring their knowledge and experience in the classroom to education programs and policy efforts.
Lane will spend 11 months at NASA, beginning in September.
“Working at NASA is a dream come true,” she said. My placement at NASA will be in the aeronautics program rather than aerospace, and the honor is truly humbling.”
Lane, who has been teaching at Lake Riviera for 12 years, began her career as a graphic artist and art director for Lucent Technologies and Avaya Inc. at Bell Labs.
There, a lifelong exposure to science was cultivated further as she moved from an internship as a photographer’s assistant while she was completing her bachelor’s in graphic arts at Flagler College (she graduated in 1999) to working on graphic arts projects that included supporting software innovations.
“BlueTooth technology was the last project I worked on,” Lane said. “Being in an environment that exudes innovation, it was very exciting and something I am proud to have been a part of.”
The leap to teaching was a conscious decision, Lane said.
“I was being laid off from my position from Bell Labs due to budget cuts,” she said. “The day I received my layoff notice was the day I also received my acceptance to Monmouth University’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.”
But the itch to teach and to share science, particularly with girls, wasn’t merely a response to the impending job cut.
“While working in Bell Labs I always volunteered to develop the activities for ‘Take Your Daughter to Work Day’ for my department,” said Lane, who received her master’s degree in 2004.
“I thought it was important to show girls what was happening in the real world of STEM and encourage them to be a part of it,” she said. “That’s where I found my passion for education. I wanted to inspire kids to understand that they could change the world for the better through science, innovation and problem solving.”
At NASA, Lane will be serving as the technical expert responsible for the aeronautics K-12 educational activities, with the goal of making NASA’s research materials more accessible to teachers and students as well as a number of other projects, she said.
Lane said she would like to see STEM education become part of every student’s education, rather than an elite program in schools — an approach she hopes to convey to congressional leaders and others during her fellowship.
The Albert Einstein Fellowship Program, now in its 26th year of operation, is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, in collaboration with NOAA, Congress, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, along with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education.
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