National Academies appoint Science in Society Director Michael Kennedy to Teacher Advisory Council

Dr. Michael Kennedy was recently appointed to the Teacher Advisory Council of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Sara Grady
August 22, 2016

Dr. Michael Kennedy, director of Science in Society and research professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University, was recently appointed to the Teacher Advisory Council of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The council was established in 2002 to bring the expertise of classroom teachers to the education and outreach work undertaken by the Academies.  

This high-profile group of teaching and science education experts includes science, math, engineering, and technology teachers across K-12 classrooms from rural, suburban and urban settings to provide multiple perspectives on national issues.

 The mission of the council is to:

  • "increase the usefulness, relevance, and communication of research to educational practice;
  • help the research community develop new research that is informed by practice;
  • provide advice about how other Academies programs, initiatives, and recommendations can be most effectively implemented in schools;
  • and offer guidance about how the Academies can best communicate with the teaching community in the United States.”

At its inception, the council was entirely comprised of K-12 educators who spent at least 50% of their time in the classroom. This was essential to provide hands-on, classroom perspectives from frontline teachers. 

For the first time, the council will add two new positions to the council in 2016. Kennedy will serve as the inaugural council member with a particular focus on afterschool science learning. Later this year, the other new addition -- an informal learning specialist -- will be announced. This reflects the sector’s growing emphasis on STEM Ecosystems and cohesive, connected and hands-on STEM education partnerships and collaboration.

“We are excited to have Dr. Kennedy join the TAC “ says Margo Murphy, chair of the Teacher Advisory Council. “He co-founded the award-winning Science Club, a mentor-based afterschool science initiative, developed in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago and teachers in Chicago Public Schools. He brings high caliber perspective and experience to our board that will help us enhance our mission. Dr. Kennedy’s appointment also begins our transition to a board that represents educators not just in formal k-12 STEM education but the larger STEM ecosystem which includes afterschool and informal education.  We are entering an exciting time for the TAC and we are so thrilled that Dr. Kennedy will be helping us shape our future.”

 The council meets 2-3 times a year to review current research and best practices in STEM education and provide insight into the changing landscape of K-12 education more broadly. This is primarily through independent consensus studies and convened workshops for the federal and state governments and stakeholders.  Recent reports and projects include STEM Learning is Everywhere and Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership.  An upcoming convocation will focus on enhancing teachers’ voices in the development and implementation of K-12 engineering education. 

 Initially established as a three-year committee, the Governing Board of the Academies designated the Teacher Advisory Council a permanent, standing board in the Academies’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education in 2005. Kennedy, like all council members, will serve on a three-year appointment commencing June 2016.

Jay Walsh, Vice President for Research at Northwestern University says “I am delighted that Michael Kennedy is contributing his expertise and passion to the Teacher Advisory Council. Tomorrow’s breakthroughs begin in today’s elementary, middle, and secondary school classrooms. It’s there that student curiosity is sparked by exceptional instruction that lays the foundation for advanced learning. Helping inform and enhance the quality of that instruction is central to the TAC mission, just as it is in Michael’s work as director of Northwestern’s Science in Society research center.”

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