Jennifer Erbe Kennedy teaches EDUC 664: Teaching K-12 Computational Thinking. She is in her 24th year in education and has been teaching STEM since 2008, focusing specifically on coding, robotics, elementary engineering, and makerspace. She is currently the STEM Specialist at SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary, a K-3 STEM-focused school.
Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Science Education from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Arts in Special Education, Gifted Education from the University of South Alabama. She earned National Board Certification in 2000 as a Middle Childhood Generalist.
In 2002, Kennedy was named Iowa’s Teacher of the Year. As Teacher of the Year, she traveled to over fifty schools throughout the state of Iowa, presenting lessons in space science and engineering to students in grades pre-K through sixth. She was the featured speaker at universities, colleges, community organizations, and professional development sessions across the state, advocating for the inclusion of hands-on science education at all levels.
In 2012, Kennedy’s work with middle school robotics was recognized when she was awarded the Toyota Teacher Leadership Award for the Tennessee Valley’s Building Engineering, Science, and Technology’s robotics hub and as a national finalist for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow grant competition. Because of her efforts, Athens Middle School received over $50,000 worth of grants for various projects and endeavors.
In 2013, Kennedy was chosen as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. She was selected to work at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. During her year-long fellowship experience in the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, Kennedy worked on expanding the ARMD’s educational portfolio by developing and revising activities and lessons on aeronautics principles and aligning existing materials to the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards. Kennedy presented NASA’s Museum in a Box lessons and activities at the 2014 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics national conference, at the Smithsonian’s Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums national conference, and at the Smithsonian Affiliates national conference. Kennedy led over forty presentations of aeronautics content to schools and the public, including a live demonstration broadcast on The Weather Channel on Earth Day.
Jennifer is currently working as a STEM specialist at SPARK Academy in Athens, Alabama. SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary is a K-3 public school, dedicated to teaching young children through the lens of science and engineering. She is very proud to have been part of the inception, development, and implementation of this innovative program.
Jennifer and her husband Wesley, also an educator, live in Athens, Alabama with their son, Adam. When not teaching or coaching robotics, Jennifer loves spending time with her family, traveling, crocheting, and cheering for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team.