Upper School faculty member Karissa Baker has been honored with two teaching and mentoring awards this past month: one from the Minnesota Academy of Science (MAS) and the other Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS).
Baker is the recipient of this year's Seagate Excellence in Science Mentoring Award from the MAS, which recognizes outstanding STEM educators who find creative ways to nurture students’ interest in scientific research and discovery, promote STEM education in their schools, inspire students to pursue their interests in STEM, and encourage students to engage in hands-on research and exploration. She is also the recipient of the Regional Teaching Award from JSHS, which recognizes her exceptional contributions to advancing student participation in STEM research at SPA.
Baker teaches Upper School physics and the Advanced Science Research (ASR) course, which she designed a decade ago for students who wanted to conduct independent original research in an area of their interest and choosing. "ASR is a challenging academic and scientific experience, but one that allows students to apply so much of what they’ve learned throughout their science coursework at SPA," says Baker. "We are in a special and uniquely privileged position at SPA to be able to offer this program, as we have the space and resources, including equipment, materials, and teacher staffing to support students through novel student-designed and implemented science research projects. I am grateful to have the privilege to mentor students through the research process, starting from idea generation all the way through sharing their research beyond the walls of our institution in science fair competitions and publication of their papers."
Baker is an exceptional teacher and mentor, according to both her students and her colleagues."Ms. Baker believed in me wholly and took every step to ensure my success, while keeping me grounded in what was possible," says ASR student Becca Richman '23. "She struck a balance of what makes mentorship potent and impactful by pushing me to exceed my goals and expectations while being honest and realistic about what was possible.” Amy Stading, Baker's colleague in the Upper School Science department, calls Baker "an exceptional mentor across her different roles at SPA. I see this in the way she works with her advisees, students, and of course the ASR program. Additionally, I have also benefited from her mentorship when I was a new faculty member at SPA. So while these awards recognize her mentorship in guiding student's scientific research, as a community we reap the benefits of her mentorship beyond ASR."
Join us in congratulating Karissa Baker!