Carrollton, Ky. - May 06, 2020 - Carroll County’s Larisa Leap is one of ten middle school science teachers in the nation who will participate this summer in the National STEM Scholar Program at The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University.
"Ms. Leap is very deserving of this honor and opportunity," said Principal Dana Oak. "With only ten teachers selected in the nation, Ms. Leap is among the best. Our school is so proud of her, and we are excited to see her project in action next school year."
Leap will spend a week at the Gatton Academy before school starts to collaborate with the other STEM scholars selected and to develop curriculum. Her classroom project will be an observation beehive inside the classroom with a pollinator garden outside. During the regular school year, Leap’s students will be researching bee colony collapse disorder, ecosystems and more. Next spring, she will present on her classroom project at the National Science Teaching Association conference in Chicago. All expenses are paid for by this program, which includes up to $2,500 in funding for materials for the classroom project itself.
“Originally, I thought this was a statewide selection but I just recently found out that the selection was limited to ten applicants nationally,” Leap said. “I found out about the application in January and passed through two phases of the process to find out I was selected as one of the top-ten national applicants. In the second phase of the application, I had to create an outline for a year-long project that will take place in my classroom next year.”
Leap is a 2003 graduate of the University of Louisville, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in geography with a minor in environmental analysis and an application in geographic information systems (GIS). After working as a GIS coordinator for Carrollton Utilities for five years, she earned a master’s in teaching from UofL and taught middle school science in Henry County for seven years. In 2015, Leap was hired as the founding director of iLead Academy, a STEM-based school comprised of students from Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Owen and Trimble counties. In July of 2019, Leap began teaching sixth-grade science at Carroll County Middle School.
“Teaching environmental science is one of my true passions,” Leap said. “I love watching students find magic in nature and their surroundings and inspiring them to make the world a better place. I am truly blessed to have been selected to join other amazing teachers in a collaboration that will benefit students for years to come.”