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Homewood-Flossmoor High School Science Department Chairperson Kimberly Smith has been selected for the Centers for Disease Control Science Ambassador Fellowship program.

Kimberly Smith, Homewood-Flossmoor High School science department chair, has been awarded a CDC fellowship.
Kimberly Smith, Homewood-Flossmoor High School science department chair, has been awarded a CDC fellowship.

Smith is set to participate in a five-day interactive summer course at CDC headquarters in Atlanta in July, although she said she recognizes the program could be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The fellowship also offers Smith professional development opportunities for a year.

The program will bring Smith together with other educators interested in bringing public health sciences into middle school and high school classrooms.

The CDC fellowship is “looking to get more input from teachers on how they can design classes that schools can have teachers use in the classroom,” Smith said. The general public is learning about the COVID-19 virus now through news sources, but she said CDC’s hope is to teach students basics about public health so they will have a good foundation to build upon throughout their lives.

Smith, whose specialty is microbiology, said now is a critical time for science education, especially teaching students about diseases and research that would have been timely during this pandemic.

At H-F, students have a strong curriculum in the sciences, but Smith points out that “there aren’t a lot of schools like H-F. We have a microbiology class, a lot of schools aren’t even teaching anything about public health.”

Microbiology is an elective at H-F open to students who have taken biology and chemistry, but she finds students from all interests, not just the sciences, taking the class.

Smith, who has been a faculty member at H-F the past 22 years, also gives her time to various science organizations. This is a council member for the Illinois Society of Microbiology and “I also collaborate a lot with suburban and Illinois science department chairs.”

Smith said she is excited about her selection for the CDC fellowship, but points out that she is not alone from among the H-F science faculty who regularly participate in programs outside of school hours and win awards for their work.

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