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Catamount School teacher recipient of Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award

By Geoff Cantrellamanda clapp

Amanda Clapp

Amanda Clapp, of Sylva, has received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers, which recognizes outstanding teachers in the North Carolina public primary and secondary schools.

Clapp is a science teacher at the Catamount School, the laboratory middle school operated by Western Carolina University in partnership with Jackson County Schools. Additionally, she serves as an instructor of science education methods for the university.

The award will provide $175,000 over five years for her project “Building Bridges: Using STEM to Cross the Rural-Urban Divide.”

The award also provides opportunities to North Carolina STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers, such as Clapp, who have an outstanding performance record in education for their professional development and collaboration with others, and to ensure individual success and satisfaction within the field. Special consideration is given to teachers working in hard-to-staff, economically deprived classrooms and to efforts that integrate environmental science and climate change into STEM-related curriculum.

“I think of the award as an opportunity to use science as a way to increase equity in North Carolina,” said Clapp. “Through authentic learning experiences, students with different backgrounds can develop relationships and respect for each other. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Clapp holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources conservation and physical anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a master’s degree in primate ecology and evolution from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a 2019 Keenan Fellow and currently completing her second master’s degree in STEM Education at WCU.

Clapp joined the staff of the Catamount School when it opened in August 2017 on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School.

Before becoming a full-time educator, Clapp served as a naturalist at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and studied lemurs in Madagascar. Her teaching career includes middle grades science and high school biology, wildlife and earth science within Jackson County Public Schools before joining the Catamount School.

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