Fairfield University alumna, Kristen Record, to receive Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Fairfield University alumna, Kristen Record, to receive Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Image: Fairfield campus Kristen Record, a 1999 magna cum laude graduate of Fairfield University, is one of 103 pre-collegiate teachers nationwide named by President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award carries a $10,000 prize from the National Science Foundation for each recipient and includes an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., later this year for the awards ceremony and other events recognizing the teachers.

While studying at Fairfield under Dr. Nancy Haegel, Kristen was the first author on a research paper she presented to the American Physical Society Conference. In a 2003 interview, Kristen recalled how her mentor "always had a good way of explaining the simplest thing in physics to the most complicated concept in quantum mechanics." Because of that ability, Kristen said, students would line up outside Haegel's door to get into her class.

It is a lesson well learned as Kristen is now credited with making physics concepts relevant to everyday life as she teaches high school juniors and seniors about simple circuits with flashlights and wave energy with headphones. She is known for challenging her students and always being available to them, whether they are struggling with schoolwork or personal problems.

And she is no less challenging to herself, conducting several summers of mentored research in fuel cell development and hydrogen production at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., under an Academies Creating Teacher Scientists (ACTS) fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy.

She has also conducted workshops in Buffalo, N.Y., at the American Solar Energy Society National Conference in 2009 and in Houston, Texas, and Chicago, Ill., at the A+ for Energy Educators Training Conference in 2008. She did a presentation in April on "Going Green in the 21st Century at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, was the recipient of a 2008 GE STAR Teaching Award, and this year was elected a Connecticut Academy for Education Fellow.

Dr. Jack Beal, professor of physics who was Kristen's advisor at Fairfield, remembers her great interest in science. "Her genuine appreciation for the world of science, coupled with her outgoing personality and a real concern for others, is a great combination for good teaching. I'm not at all surprised that she has generated such a positive response from her students."

Kristen's enthusiasm for teaching was also recognized locally this year as she was named the 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year in the Stratford Public School system.

Kristen comes from a family of science teachers that includes a younger brother, Daniel, who graduated summa cum laude from Fairfield University in 2001 and now teaches high school physics at Darien High School. They both went on to Harvard to earn master's degrees. Their father, also a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence, in 1986, teaches high school physics, and their mother teaches sixth-grade science.

Kristen knows she could be working in a more financially lucrative job, but says it's not about the money. She simply loves the challenges each day brings and the students she teaches. She receives great satisfaction, she says, from knowing her students will leave her classroom understanding how relevant science is to their lives.

Kristen continues to have strong ties to her alma mater and enjoys keeping in touch with her professors and following the progress of her students who are following in her path at Fairfield. She is a mentor in Fairfield's Ignatian Residential College and is a choir member and Eucharistic Minister in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola.

As a soprano with the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut, she has taken part in collaborative performances with the Connecticut Grand Opera and the Bridgeport and Norwalk Symphony Orchestras. She serves as president of the Choir's Board of Directors, overseeing 12 volunteer committees and managing rehearsal, performance and international travel logistics.

Posted On: 06-18-2010 10:06 AM

Volume: 42 Number: 314