NC teacher pursues ASU master’s degree through distance learning

ALAMOSA – Being a single mother of three and teaching full-time doesn’t stop Covey Denton from setting a high bar.

“My goal is to be the most amazing science teacher my students will ever have,” she says from her home in North Carolina. “I want to develop a profound love of science in my students through the activities and material I cover in my classroom. I want to spread my love of science to every single student that enters my room.” 

Denton is pursuing her master’s degree through Adams State University’s graduate distance degree program. She enrolled in the fall of 2016 to the Adams State Teacher Education Department Master of Arts in Education Curriculum and Instruction with Endeavor STEM Leadership Certificate. She will graduate in December 2018.

The Adams State program has given Denton access to unique opportunities and resources she didn’t realize existed. “The forums to communicate with like-minded individuals have given me feedback and helped me grow as a teacher.”

The flexibility Adams State online master’s program works well with Denton’s schedule. “I am a single mom of three kids who has eight grades of lessons to prep.” She teaches preschool through 6th or 7th grade, depending on the year. “The online classes allow me to work ahead when I have spare time in my schedule and allow me to pace myself and plan.” She appreciates the well-organized classes and user-friendly format. “The NASA classes with the call-in classroom meetings are easy to schedule after the kids’ bedtime and allow me to really focus on the content being offered. I have enjoyed the prompt communication from my instructors and felt like I benefited a great deal from each course I have taken.”

The courses through Adams State’s online program have also increased Denton’s awareness of diversity in the classroom. “The courses through Adams State have helped me understand the needs of my students and best practices in the classroom, and allowed me to develop my own teaching philosophy and style.”

Her dedication and exceptional teaching have not gone unnoticed. Denton was selected as one of 30 advisory board members for Infiniscope, created by Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate team’s national education advisory board. According to the website, Infiniscope makes the vastness of space and space exploration inviting, accessible, and interactive for educators and learners of all ages. Infiniscope provides a virtual space to connect users with cutting edge space exploration experiences that inspire curiosity, excitement, engagement, and confidence.

Denton discovered her passion for teaching while earning her first master’s degree at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Denton had planned on becoming a biomedical engineer; however, she “loved” being a teacher assistant and preferred it to lab work. After graduation she accepted a position with the North Carolina State Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “It was amazing.” Her territory covered 23 counties in rural eastern North Carolina. “I knew once I became a mother, I couldn’t maintain my three thousand miles a month of travel. After having three kids in three years and homeschooling and teaching in Co-Ops I discovered how much I really loved to teach.”

The last four years, Denton has taught at Greenfield School, a small private school. “I love it, but I knew I was missing the pedagogy and best practices because of my lack of background knowledge.” After several individuals in her science groups mentioned the NASA Stem Endeavor program Denton knew it was a logical move and the best course forward. “After discussing things with a counselor and looking at my options, I felt a master’s in education would give me the background knowledge I would be able to use in the classroom. It would fill in the gaps I desperately needed filled.”  

She has been challenged to create and review lesson plans and really focuses on drawing her students into learning and generating in them the desire to learn independently. “The classes offered through the NASA program are very content-based and useful in filling in the gaps in my physics and earth science knowledge. The classes through Adams State have shown me about cultural differences, development of the student, and the milestones they can reach. They also helped me develop a teaching pedagogy that is data-driven and relevant to the population I serve.”

Denton was named Teacher of the Week on December 13 by her local television station, WITN. She was one of six teachers in the nation to receive the Robert E. Yager Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Science Teachers Association (NTSA) in February 2017.

Caption: Covey Denton, of North Carolina, appreciates the Adams State Teacher Education online master’s program, which helps her inspire students in science./Courtesy photo