For 25 years, Kim Rice’s focus was teaching third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Enon Elementary School until Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics came along.
After hearing about the program, Rice began doing STEAM activities in her homeroom and Science Club.
She made the jump to being a STEAM resource teacher once she realized it was good for students. She now teaches kindergarten through fifth grade and said the younger kids keep her on her toes.
Rice said the students communicate and have to work within a group, which is a good life skill. “They’re using some critical thinking, and they’re using the engineering design process … to try to approach a problem.”
Her favorite thing about STEAM is coding. She encourages her second-to-fifth-graders to use coding sites because, in the future, a lot of careers will involve coding. Since last year, she has been in charge of sending students to “STEAM Mania,” which she said was exciting.
Rice loves seeing her students have “a-ha moments” when they get their projects to work.
“If they have certain things they have to meet for a challenge where it has to be 10 inches tall or if it has to emit light, they’re thinking that through, and they’re checking it. And then they’re like, ‘Oh, I got it,’ or if they don’t get it, they don’t give up, and they’re using their determination to get it,” she said.
Rice grew up in West Bethlehem, Pa., near Pittsburgh. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Edinboro University, she moved to Virginia and started teaching at Enon, where she has been for all 27 years of her teaching career. She is also an itinerant teacher at Marguerite Christian Elementary School one day a week.
Rice was the Enon Elementary’s “Teacher of the Year” for the 2018-2019 school year.
She said she became a teacher because she wanted to make a difference and have an impact on students, and added that STEAM allows her to have the freedom to do projects of her choosing.
Rice’s passion for reading led her to start a Chat and Chew group for kindergarteners through fifth-graders, where students purchase and talk about a book.
She started at Enon in 1992 and is the longest-serving teacher at the school.
“I don’t feel like I should be here the longest because I still feel like I’m learning every day,” she said. “I’m constantly trying new things and seeing what will work and not just doing what I’ve done in the past.”