The ATPE Floyd Trimble Local Unit of the Year Award acknowledges local units’ efforts and accomplishments during the year. This year’s winners were honored during the virtual 2020 ATPE Summit.
Region 5’s Lumberton ATPE won the Local Unit of the Year Award for Local Units with 1–200 Members, and 2019-20 President Susan Letourneau, a recently retired 20-year teacher of physics, calculus, and engineering spoke to ATPE about how Lumberton ATPE members are reaching out to one another during the pandemic and her favorite moments during her career.
How has the pandemic shifted your role as an ATPE volunteer or as a local unit? Are there any recruiting strategies you’d like to share?
The pandemic has reduced our face-to-face activities, so we have used email, texts, and hand-written notes to communicate. In the spring ,we held an electronic vote for officers and met with members via Zoom. It is still vital to maintain connections with members and for recruiting! Our campus reps are making personal (but socially distanced!) contacts to be sure all staff are aware of the benefits of ATPE and to assist with sign-ups. It is difficult with all the responsibilities our staff has—safety protocols, at-home learners, and additional paperwork requirements—but the campus reps are the faces of ATPE and so are critical to recruiting and assisting members.
What was your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of being an educator was seeing the students work as part of a team to solve problems while having fun and experiencing success. Seeing them build a compound machine, paddle a canoe constructed from cardboard and duct tape, load a bridge built from matchsticks, and make professional presentations to local business representatives all bring such satisfaction to the students and to me!
What was your favorite moment during your career?
My favorite moment as an educator was announcing the winning team of our Mission to Space last year. We participated in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program where students develop experiment ideas, write proposals, and are evaluated by independent panels of researchers and teachers. My students won the competition and will be sending their experiment to the International Space Station (ISS) this fall. The experiment will evaluate the formation of concrete with plastic fibers in micro-gravity to assist with future construction in space. Astronauts on the ISS will perform the experiment and then the students and their research adviser (Dr. Nicholas Brake of Lamar University) will publish the results.
Share something fun about yourself.
I am a new grandmother of a precious baby (Diana) with a second grandbaby due around Thanksgiving. I look forward to loving them, playing with them, and, of course, teaching them about science and math!