Kim Shank Earns Loehr Innovative Science Teaching Award

Shank is holding a bucket of pencils that her students count during lessons that include science in math.
"I'm sorry I couldn't be here today. Thank you so much! I am honored to receive this award from the Loehr family. I have found science to be a natural and exciting way to draw children into any content area.
It is a privilege to have the support to provide memorable experiences for the students I teach. Thank you, Dr. Eschbach.
I am also grateful for the energetic, enthusiastic, and patient Education Support Professionals I work with that make it possible to safely take small children on amazing outdoor adventures and to help facilitate many hands-on classroom experiences.
I wish my students could be here to receive the award with me since their curiosity is my inspiration."

~ Kim Shank, an Innovative Science Teacher

Kim Shank, Beverly J. Martin Elementary School first-grade teacher, was honored with the 2016 Raymond C. Loehr Innovative Science Teaching Award at the Ithaca City School District Convocation. The award was presented by Loehr’s son Stephen Yale-Loehr and Cheryl Mitchell, a board member of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative. IPEI manages the award.
“I'm grateful for this recognition of the value of integrating science in all subject areas, both in and out of the classroom," expressed Shank. "Science is a natural and exciting way to engage students in learning across subject areas. I look forward to telling my students about the award because their curiosity is my inspiration. I also appreciate the para-professionals who have supported me as we take very young children on outings and when more hands are needed during classroom activities.”
Mitchell, who serves on the Awards Committee of the IPEI Board, announced that Susan Eschbach, principal of BJM, nominated Shank who has been teaching from an interdisciplinary framework for 20 years in grades pre-K through fourth-grade. 
“On any given day her children are engaged in an inquiry-based approach to their work and play," said Eschbach. "She breathes scientific exploration and experimentation into each experience.  For example, when doing a sorting activity, she creates taxonomies so that children examine their fresh fruit and vegetable snacks with an eye toward color, shape, what kind of plant they grow on and what else their shape may mimic in the room."
More examples of Shank's dedication:
- Shank takes weekly field trips to explore the area. After a trip to the wildflower preserve and a visit to Cornell to learn about snakes, the children created a gigantic snake that took ten children to hold and weave through an assembly in the gym while one student recited a rap, and the school gave a choral response.
- Studying flowers can involve a wide range of approaches - vocabulary for flower parts, an alphabet read-aloud for flower names with an exploration of cadence and rhyme, groups working out a process for decision making to then choose a flower name, design a large replica, figure out why the parts are critical to the plant, present their learning and then decorate the classroom for weeks with the large flowers.
- When students enter the classroom each day, they find a question on a tree stump asking them to calculate rat or elephant heartbeats and figure out the connection to heart rate and animal size. If you visit Shank'soom you find a sailboat to read in, an auto shop, a backyard with a picnic table, tire rims to sit on and who knows, maybe a tent.
Raymond C. Loehr’s family initiated the teaching award at the time of his 70th birthday in honor of his career as a science educator. It has been presented to eleven different teachers from Ithaca’s elementary and secondary schools. A second award in his honor is presented each June to a student who excels in environmental science.
Steven Manley, executive director of IPEI, introduced Mitchell at the Convocation. He reviewed IPEI’s various roles working with the ICSD community. Among them, IPEI manages a number of funds established by community members to honor and remember special people through scholarships and awards.
IPEI is a not-for-profit organization that connects the Ithaca City School District and the community through collaboration, engagement, gifts and grants. For more information, see or contact 256-IPEI (4734) or

~ Provided by the Ithaca Public Education Initiative