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Hall of Fame Award Winners

Ellie Fitts Fulmer  l  2010
Teacher Institute Grand Master Award
Da Vinci Teacher Institute, Allentown, Pa.
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The life and career of Ellie Fitts Fulmer – a former educator in the Allentown School District – is a powerful demonstration of the impact of inquiry-based science learning.

As Ellie studied and worked to become a teacher, science, in her words, was a subject that she “struggled just to get through.” All of that changed, however, during one of her student teaching assignments when she met a science support teacher she describes as a “Mrs. Wizard.” Ellie was mesmerized by her energy along with her ability to motivate her students with hands-on activities and exciting gadgets. Ellie also became motivated to teach science in the same way.

Joining the faculty of the Da Vinci Teacher Institute was a natural progression for Ellie. DVI presented her with an opportunity to be the inspiring “Mrs. Wizard” for hundreds of teachers in the Lehigh Valley region. While the DVI participants have learned from Ellie, they also have taught Ellie the importance of integrating science with all subjects – especially literacy. Educators like Ellie have learned that students are more likely to enjoy reading and writing about topics with “real-life purpose.”

Ellie also has learned that inquiry science learning can be a type of “equalizer” for students who do not enjoy privileged backgrounds because it activates their natural instinct to test their ideas about the world around them. She also says that inquiry learning stresses the important life lessons of resiliency, consistency, and the ability to follow-through with something they have begun.

Ellie taught elementary school students in Allentown School District and The Swain School for four years, and is currently a Mentor for first-year teachers in Philadelphia who are earning their credentials through Teach for America. Ellie has been a DVI faculty member for five years. Ellie also is pursuing a doctorate in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her doctoral dissertation work is on local multicultural education for teachers in the Lehigh Valley.

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